HUD Secretary Commends Housing Efforts in Congress
As the keynote speaker at a June 29 breakfast on Capitol Hill in commemoration of National Homeownership Month, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson commended lawmakers for their bipartisan cooperation in promoting a national priority for housing and cited the significant economic and social contributions of home builders around the country.
Jackson was joined at the NAHB-sponsored event by Reps. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and Gary Miller (R-Calif.), chair and vice chair, respectively, of the House Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee.
“The President believes in a homeownership society,” Jackson said. “He believes it is the quickest path to accumulate wealth and that it strengthens families. When you own a home, you have a stake in your community. It is the quickest path to self-sufficiency.”
Observing that housing activity has kept the national economy strong over the past three years, Rep. Miller, who chairs the Building a Better America Caucus, said that Congress must continue to promote homeownership policies because owning a home makes the single largest contribution to the accumulation of household wealth.
“Developers have become cash cows for local governments,” he added. “We must remove the hurdles and needless regulations that keep homeownership out of the reach of some American families. Congress must cultivate an environment in which more Americans may turn the dream of homeownership into reality.”
Miller, who owned a home building business before coming to Congress, formed the Building a Better America Caucus in 2001 so that bipartisan House members could examine challenges facing the construction industry, such as increasing training in the construction trades, decreasing taxes and eliminating outmoded regulations.
Rep. Ney noted that his panel assisted in the successful enactment of 17 housing-related bills in the last Congress through the cooperation of the subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
“Both sides of the political aisle deserve credit for this,” said Ney, who added that his committee is now working to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Section 8 housing program.
The HUD secretary said that President Bush is more than halfway toward reaching the goal he announced in 2002 of turning 5.5 million minority families into home owners by 2010.
The increase of 2.3 million in the number of minority home owners over the past three years has helped push the minority homeownership rate above 50%, he said, compared to an overall rate of 69%.
“The President wants us to get to a level where every American who wants to own a home will get to own a home,” said Jackson.
Jackson said that HUD is determined to “get rid of regulatory barriers that have been a hindrance for home builders to build affordable housing.”
He also said the Administration will continue to push for the single-family homeownership tax credit, a top NAHB legislative priority that has been introduced in both chambers of Congress.
“The homeownership tax credit will give developers incentives to develop in urban areas,” he said. “No suburb can thrive without a healthy inner city. This will create homeownership opportunities in distressed areas and will revitalize neighborhoods.”
The HUD secretary also promised to work openly with the Congress and industry to pursue Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act reform. (For a related story in this issue, click here.)
In observance of National Homeownership Month, the House approved House Resolution 312, which recognizes the importance of homeownership in America.
Reps. Ney and Miller posted comments in support of the resolution in the Congressional Record, along with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who said that the “National Association of Home Builders has been a very constructive participant in our efforts to promote homeownership.”
To read the congressional resolution, click here and enter H.Res. 312 in the box at the upper left.
For more information, e-mail Michael Strauss, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8252.