Builders urge Congress to ease housing affordability crisis

More than 700 builders, remodelers and associates engaged in all facets of residential construction marched on Capitol Hill on June 7 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 (NAHB) 2023 Legislative Conference to deliver a simple message to lawmakers: ‘As housing goes, so goes the economy,’” NAHB Chairman Alicia Huey, a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Alabama, said in a news release.

With a nationwide shortage of 1.5 million housing units, Ms. Huey said “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.”

Goals for residential construction issues in Congress

In more than 250 individual meetings with representatives and senators, housing advocates urged lawmakers to act on these 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. The cost of transformers has soared by more than 70% over the past three years. NAHB is urging Congress to utilize 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 supply shortage.
  • Energy codes. The 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 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, which is resulting in housing construction delays and higher home building costs. The NAHB is urging Congress to reauthorize the Workplace Innovation and Opportunity Act to help meet the residential construction industry’s workforce needs and to fully fund the Job Corps program.

Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-AR, chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and the only forester in Congress, spoke to NAHB members before they met with other lawmakers and said America needs to get its forests healthy and boost domestic production.

“We should be doing everything we can to build more mills out west,” Mr. Westerman said. “We are the world’s largest importer of wood.”

Mr. Westerman added that housing is critical to the U.S. economy and fundamental to the health of society.