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Statement in response to President Obama’s housing speech in Phoenix

NHC calls for renewed focus on critical housing challenges

President Obama today addressed the critical housing challenges that our country is working to overcome as we emerge from an historic housing crisis and recession. Federal efforts over the last four years have done much to encourage a housing recovery and help those in need, but much more remains to be done. The National Housing Conference (NHC) welcomes the President’s attention to housing issues, and we encourage further federal action to help households and neighborhoods recover.

“Housing must be at the center of our national economic recovery, just as it was at the center of the crisis,” said NHC President and CEO Chris Estes.

NHC believes that the recovery must reach all those in need. In cities and towns with booming new industries, there must be affordable housing options for those of low and moderate means. In neighborhoods rebuilding from waves of foreclosure, there must be help to break the cycle of disinvestment. For people working hard to afford a safe, decent place to live, there must be affordable rental housing. For families looking for their first home, there must be reliable, sustainable mortgages they can afford. For those without anywhere to call home, there must be outreach, services, and permanent supportive housing to get them back on their feet.

“It is important to recognize that everyone in a community benefits when their housing market is stabilized and healthy, neither of which are possible without these interventions,” said Estes.

NHC welcomes the President’s proposals that would:

  • Create a new mortgage finance system that uses use a limited and explicit government role to ensure reliable access to long-term fixed-rate mortgages, finance for multifamily housing nationwide, and support for affordable housing.
  • Restore neighborhoods damaged by the foreclosure crisis, building on the successes and lessons learned from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the Hardest Hit Fund, and the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program.
  • Create and preserve affordable rental housing in cities, suburbs and rural areas across the country, which requires a federal budget sufficient to invest in these essential needs, and preservation of key tax provisions like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
  • Expand refinancing options to help families stay in their home and reduce housing cost burdens.
  • Clarify mortgage rules to expand access and affordability while bringing certainty and transparency to lending markets, thereby ensuring that mortgage lending serves all responsible borrowers, not just those with wealth and pristine credit.

The President is also right to point to state and local governments as gatekeepers of housing and land use decisions. They can also be sources of innovation to find better ways to create and preserve affordable housing. NHC is committed to helping states and localities find housing policy solutions that create affordable housing options for all in America.

These are among NHC’s central policy priorities. We and our members look forward to assisting the President, agency staff, and the Congress implement these and others solutions in coming months.

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