Secretary Snow Hears Energy, Housing Affordability Issues
NAHB President David Pressly and fellow home builders Steve Temkin and Connecticut State Representative Greg Ugalde joined Treasury Secretary John Snow in Torrington, Conn. on Feb. 22 for a press event highlighting what the nation’s home builders and the Bush Administration are doing to promote residential energy efficiency.
The secretary called attention to the importance of energy-efficient housing and announced new IRS guidelines for tax credits that provide incentives for energy-saving features in home building and remodeling.
Temkin and Ugalde, the CEO and president, respectively, of family-owned T&M Building Co. in Torrington, had an opportunity to show Snow some of the energy-efficient features they are incorporating into their new homes, including special furnaces, multi-zone heating and cooling systems, Low-E insulated windows and programmable thermostats.
Pressly and Secretary Snow both commented on the need for government and private interests to join forces to expand the reach of energy efficiency in the housing marketplace at a time when U.S. dependence on foreign energy resources is a growing concern.
In a private exchange following the press event, Pressly discussed with Snow NAHB’s serious concerns over the unfavorable tax simplification measures that were proposed by a presidential advisory panel last fall, and reminded the secretary that while those proposals are currently under review by the Treasury Department, President Bush has publicly confirmed his support for the mortgage interest deduction several times.
The President expressed his support for the deduction during the NAHB Fall Board of Directors meeting in Columbus, Ohio two years ago, and most recently reiterated that view at a town hall meeting in Tampa, Fla. when asked about it by an NAHB member in the audience.
President Bush at Tampa Town Hall Meeting
John C. “Chuck” Fowke, head of Homes by John C. Fowke in Brandon, Fla., a past president of the Tampa Bay Builders Association and currently a state representative, told President Bush of his concerns over housing affordability at a public forum on Feb. 17.
After identifying himself as a home builder and member of NAHB’s board of directors, Fowke noted, “We’re concerned with the environment just as much as anyone else, but there’s got to be a balance to make sure that we can develop land and provide homes — affordable homes. And Congress is working on some things now that have an effect on financing and interest rates for people buying their first homes. Let’s make sure that we have affordable homes for people.”
Agreeing with Fowke, Bush cited the need for the country to be “an ownership society” and mentioned downpayment assistance for helping first-time home buyers. “Maybe you’re hinting at whether or not the mortgage deduction would be part of a plan,” the President then added. “I don’t think you have to worry about the mortgage deduction not being part of the income tax law.”
Pressly expressed gratitude for the opportunity to discuss energy efficiency and tax reform with Secretary Snow and voiced confidence that the Administration would keep an open door for further conversations on issues related to concerns of NAHB members over housing affordability.
In NAHB’s latest survey on critical issues facing members of the association, the availability of affordable housing was 10th on the list of their top concerns.