NEW ORLEANS — Members of the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans and more than 700 builders, remodelers and associates from around the country recently marched on Capitol Hill to call on Congress to take steps to ease the nation’s housing affordability crisis and make housing and homeownership a national priority.
“From coast to coast, members of the housing community have come to Washington for the National Association of Home Builders 2023 Legislative Conference to deliver a simple message to lawmakers: ‘As housing goes, so goes the economy,’” said NAHB Chairman Alicia Huey, a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Ala.
With a nationwide shortage of 1.5 million housing units, Huey noted that “building more homes is the only way to tame inflation, satisfy unmet demand, achieve a healthy supply-demand balance in the for-sale and rental markets, and ease the nation’s housing affordability crisis.”
In more than 250 individual meetings with their representatives and senators, housing advocates urged lawmakers to act on the following three issues to help keep housing affordable and spur the production of attainable housing:
Transformers. A shortage of distribution transformers is delaying housing projects across the nation and the cost of transformers has soared by more than 70% over the past three years. NAHB is urging Congress to use the Defense Production Act to boost output at existing facilities to address the growing supply chain crisis for distribution transformers, and oppose efforts by the Department of Energy to increase the energy conservation standards for the production of distribution transformers because it will severely exacerbate the current supply shortage.
Energy codes. NAHB is urging the Senate to introduce and advance legislation which includes the provision in House-passed bill H.R. 1 that would repeal $1 billion in grants provided to state and local governments to adopt updated energy codes that are more costly and restrictive. Forcing the adoption of more stringent energy codes to qualify for these grants will exacerbate the current housing affordability crisis and limit energy choices for consumers.
Workforce development funding. There is a shortage of more than 400,000 workers in the construction industry, and this is resulting in housing construction delays and higher home building costs. NAHB is urging Congress to reauthorize the Workplace Innovation and Opportunity Act to help meet the residential construction industry’s severe workforce needs and to fully fund the Job Corps program, which is a vital source of skilled labor for our industry.
Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and the only forester in Congress, spoke to NAHB members before they met with their lawmakers and said that America needs to get its forests healthy and boost domestic production.
“We should be doing everything we can to build more mills out west,” said Westerman. “We are the world’s largest importer of wood. Housing is super critical to our economy. It is fundamental to the health of our society.”
“It is important for HBAGNO senior officials and members to meet face-to-face with their congressional representatives,” said Dan Mills, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans. “Through our efforts on behalf of the residential housing industry and with legislative support, we can better serve the residents of all our communities.”