RISMEDIA, Oct. 13, 2008-Job losses and declining tax revenues resulting from the deep housing slump and the decline in property values require state and local governments to consider innovative ideas to help put the housing market back on track, according to Sandy Dunn, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Point Pleasant, W.Va.
“Necessity is indeed the mother of invention during a financial crisis,” Dunn said. “While the federal government has stepped forward with a series of emergency actions to stabilize and restore confidence in the financial markets, it’s now time for the same sort of innovative thinking at the local and state levels where public officials are grappling with budget shortfalls that are putting a squeeze on spending for everything from schools to public safety and other essential services.”
Such creative thinking, Dunn added, could range from foregoing impact fees on new development to allowing higher density zoning to build more affordable housing and streamlining the entire development review process. It is also important that cities and counties extend existing zoning approvals while builders work out financing for new projects.
Any of these measures will help stimulate the housing sector and boost local economies. “By encouraging new development rather than penalizing it, local governments will be helping to create a new business environment that will generate jobs, stabilize property values and get the housing market back on track,” she added.
“Fifteen cents of every dollar spent in this nation is spent on housing,” Dunn said. “It is the engine that runs this country.” The importance of residential construction on local economies can be seen in a recent study by NAHB economists. The study, which looks at the impacts of single-family and multifamily home building and residential remodeling, can be found at www.housingeconomics.com.
The NAHB study estimates that in 2008, on average:
- Construction of 1,000 new single-family homes creates 3,049 jobs and generates more than $89 million in tax and other revenues for federal, state, and local governments.
- Construction of 1,000 new multifamily rental units creates 1,155 jobs and generates more than $33 million in tax and other government revenues.
- $100 million worth of residential remodeling activity creates 1,109 jobs and generates more than $30 million in tax and other government revenues.
The estimates are based primarily on industry accounts published by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, part of the national accounting system that is used to produce official estimates of Gross Domestic Product.
“This study clearly demonstrates the housing industry’s importance to the U.S. economy,” Dunn said. “The fastest, most effective way to turn this economy around is to shore up the housing sector.
“There is no easy way out of this economic downturn,” Dunn said. “But in times of crisis we find opportunity. This is the time to be creative and to work collaboratively. Builders, developers, lenders, local policy makers and other stakeholders need to work together to promote smart growth practices that can help us build vibrant communities that meet the needs of families across the economic spectrum.”
For more information, visit www.nahb.org.
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