More than 600 builders from across the nation trekked to Capitol Hill for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) 2022 Legislative Conference to spotlight the growing housing affordability crisis that threatens to derail the economy and urge their lawmakers to support policies that will ease building material production bottlenecks and increase the production of quality, affordable housing.
“A growing shortage of affordable housing and rising housing costs stemming from historically high price levels for lumber and other building materials, supply chain bottlenecks, surging interest rates and excessive regulations are hurting families and communities nationwide,” said NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter, a home builder and developer from Savannah, Ga. “Builders from across the nation are sending a loud and clear message that Congress must act now to help improve affordability conditions by implementing policies that will help builders to construct more single-family homes and apartments to meet consumer demand.”
In more than 200 individual meetings with their representatives and senators, builders discussed several key housing issues, including volatile building material prices and supply chain disruptions; diminishing housing affordability conditions; burdensome federal, state and local building regulations; skyrocketing inflation and interest rates; and a chronic construction labor shortage.
Building material prices are up 47 percent since the spring of 2020 and Fannie Mae estimates that the monthly principal and interest payment to purchase a median-priced home has risen by $500 since the beginning of the year due to the rapid rise in mortgage rates. Lawmakers were told that reducing excessive regulations that account for nearly 25 percent of the price of building a single-family home and more than 30 percent of the cost of a typical multifamily development will provide more homeownership and rental housing opportunities for all Americans. On the labor front, there is a record-high shortage of 449,000 workers in the construction industry, and this is resulting in housing construction delays and higher home building costs.
In their meetings with lawmakers, NAHB urged Congress to take the following actions:
- Call on the Biden administration to suspend tariffs on Canadian lumber imports into the U.S. to help reduce unprecedented lumber price volatility and to move immediately to enter into negotiations with Canada on a new softwood lumber agreement.
- Pass the No Timber from Tyrants Act, which would ban lumber imports from Russia and ramp up responsible harvesting of timber from federal lands to create jobs and produce more sustainable wood products.
- Promote and fund job training programs to prepare individuals for careers in home building and pursue immigration policies that help fill labor gaps while protecting the nation’s borders.
Builders also thanked their members of Congress for passing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act earlier this week. The legislation will help ease building material supply chain bottlenecks and allow builders to increase production of badly needed affordable housing.
In a related development, NAHB leaders discussed the urgent need to address critical housing affordability issues in a meeting with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge last week.