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New Dem Task force tackles housing shortage

The task force is looking at the housing ecosystem to identify solutions to rising housing costs.

BY HBSDealer Staff

A shortage of homes on the market are jacking up prices while leaving many would-be buyers on the sidelines. In the meantime, tariffs continue to push up the prices of the materials needed to build new homes. It’s becoming a non-win situation for home builders who also face a labor shortage.

The New Democrat Colalition Housing Task Force released its initial findings earlier this week regarding the housing problem in its “America’s Housing Crisis: Missing Millions of Homes” report.

In a statement issued by the task force, it said, “housing is increasingly scarce and increasingly expensive. In the richest country in the world, millions of people are struggling to meet their most basic needs.”

“We set out to understand why housing costs were rising, but the answer was quickly clear. We have far too few homes. As a result, prices are being bid up, housing consumes an ever-increasing part of family budgets, and those without means are being forced into homelessness. We must recognize this as a crisis and find a way to change public policy to dramatically increase construction and build millions more homes,” said Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.), also the co-chair of the task force.

Convened in 2017 and composed of 68 Democrats, the task force is charged with looking at the entire housing ecosystem and identify solutions to rising housing costs. It builds on previous New Democrat efforts to devise reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while covering the full scope of federal housing policy, including housing subsidies offered through HUD and incentives in the tax code.

Since releasing its initial report on June 6, the task force said it will release a second report with policy recommendations to address the lack of affordable housing options later this year.

The National Association of Home Builders said it’s behind the recent work of the New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force.

“NAHB commends the work of the New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force to seek solutions to the nation’s housing affordability and shortage woes. Housing construction creates jobs, contributes to the tax base and is important for a strong and healthy economy,” said Randy Noel, NAHB chairman and a homebuilder in LaPlace, La.  “We look forward to working with Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill to find solutions that will help builders to construct sorely needed affordable housing units for hard-working American families.”

Among the reports initial findings, zoning and land-use regulations are slowing and restricting building of housing while demand has shifted to walkable transit-served urban areas, which are in short supply. Also, construction funding is less available in the aftermath of the financial crisis as labor is not becoming more productive and overtaking the shortcomings of a labor shortage.

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