WASHINGTON, July 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Multi
Housing Council (NMHC)/National Apartment Association (NAA) joint
legislative program issued the following statement by NMHC/NAA Senior Vice
President of Government Affairs Jim Arbury concerning the housing stimulus
bill that passed the Senate today.
"Although we feel the best solution to the current housing turmoil is
to allow market forces to restore equilibrium to the single-family housing
sector, we are pleased to see that lawmakers embraced the principles of our
Balanced Housing Policy initiative in crafting their housing stimulus
package by balancing homeownership-related provisions with meaningful
rental housing incentives.
"The bill increases funding for, and makes other improvements to, the
Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which directly supports the
production of affordable rental housing. It also restores liquidity to that
program, which has been an unintended victim of the single-family meltdown
and the credit crisis it created, by allowing the LIHTC to offset
Alternative Minimum Tax liabilities. This will make the LIHTC program more
desirable to a new class of potential investors.
"The apartment industry also supports provisions in the package that
create a new regulator for the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs),
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie and Freddie have been critical to
maintaining basic liquidity in the apartment sector during the credit
crisis. We are pleased to see that the Senate bill removes onerous
provisions included in earlier versions that would have severely restricted
the GSEs' ability to purchase multifamily loans.
"Most importantly, we commend lawmakers for significantly trimming the
homeownership incentives originally included in the bill. The single-family
meltdown, while extremely unfortunate, was fueled in part by a
'homeownership at any cost' housing policy that pushed too many families
into unsustainable homeownership. If there is a silver lining in this
situation, it is that our country now has an opportunity to learn from its
past mistakes and pursue a more balanced housing policy.
"To that end, we are pleased to see that Congress rejected
ill-conceived proposals to create a federally insured zero-downpayment
mortgage program; instead the current legislation raises the downpayment
requirement from 3.0 percent to 3.5 percent. Lawmakers also wisely rejected
calls for a $15,000 tax credit (later reduced to $7,500) for people who buy
foreclosed houses. Such a credit would likely have increased foreclosures
and accelerated house price declines while doing absolutely nothing to
increase housing demand.
"We do share President Bush's concerns over the $8,000 refundable
first-time homebuyer tax credit contained in the Senate bill. We question
the wisdom of using taxpayer dollars to encourage Americans to buy an asset
that is likely to lose value in the coming months, and we agree with the
Administration that the homebuyer tax credit is an inefficient use of
resources that will largely go to people who would have purchased a house
anyway. This credit, and a one-year standard deduction for property taxes
that is included in the bill, will not help people stay in their houses nor
will they will fix the credit crisis, which should be the priority for any
housing stimulus bill.
"Finally, we are pleased to see that the Senate bill bans
seller-financed downpayment 'gifts' such as the ones offered by AmeriDream
and the Nehemiah Corporation. NMHC/NAA have long opposed such programs
because of abuses in these programs. The Federal Housing Administration
(FHA) has twice attempted to ban the programs through regulatory action,
noting that FHA loans that involve these seller-financed downpayments are
three times as likely to go into foreclosure and represent a serious threat
to the continued solvency of the federal mortgage program.
"We look forward to working with Congress to develop a new housing
policy that explicitly values apartments and rental housing and recognizes
that for many families, renting is a smarter financial decision. This is
particularly true given the fundamental changes in housing demand that are
occurring throughout the country.
"Record-setting gasoline prices, changing demographics and shifts in
lifestyle preferences are causing many households to redefine the American
Dream as an apartment in a walkable neighborhood with stores, entertainment
and jobs nearby. Experts predict that as a result of these changes the U.S.
will have a surplus of more than 22 million large-lot houses by 2025.
"Not only are apartments and more compact development increasingly
desirable, they are increasingly necessary in reducing our nation's carbon
footprint and creating more sustainable communities. Apartments are an
inherently 'green' housing choice because they use resources more
efficiently, help preserve greenspace and are often transit-oriented.
Recent research finds that modifying America's current land development
patterns to emphasize more compact, mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods could
do as much to lower greenhouse gas emissions as many of the other climate
policies being promoted at both the state and the national level."
NMHC and NAA operate a Joint Legislative Program and represent the
nation's leading firms participating in the multifamily rental housing
industry. NMHC/NAA's combined memberships are engaged in all aspects of the
development and operation of apartment communities, including ownership,
construction, finance and management. Together, the organizations operate a
federal legislative program and provide a unified voice for the private
apartment industry. Nearly one-third of Americans rent their housing, and
more than 14 percent of all U.S. households live in an apartment home. For
more information, contact NMHC at 202/974-2300, e-mail the Council at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit NMHC's web site at http://www.nmhc.org.
SOURCE National Multi Housing Council
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