SAN FRANCISCO — Although the housing market has turned in a record-setting performance over the past two years, housing affordability remains a serious problem for many households, according to Kent Conine, president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

"Housing has been one of the few strong sectors of the economy for some time," Conine said at a press conference during the Pacific Coast Builders Conference. "But despite record low interest rates and record new home sales last year, many people are still finding it very difficult to become home owners or to find affordable rental housing," he noted.

The problem is particularly acute for minority families whose homeownership rate lags the national rate of almost 69 percent by about 20 points.

To help remedy this problem, NAHB supports pending federal legislation that would provide a homeownership tax credit to developers/investors who build or substantially rehabilitate homes for sale to moderate- and low-income buyers.

"H. R. 839 in the House and S. 198 and S. 875 in the Senate would help achieve two key national objectives," Conine said. "The legislation would aid economically distressed areas by creating new jobs and they would close the homeownership gap for minorities by increasing the supply of affordable homes for sale."

He added that the Bush administration supports the tax credit, which is "good public policy and good for the economy."

"Each year, it would produce some 50,000 new and rehabilitated homes, 120,000 jobs, $4 billion in wages, and $2 billion in taxes and fees," Conine said. "This would more than offset the $2.4 billion that the Treasury Department estimates the tax credit would cost over five years."

Publication date: 06/23/2003