A growing affordability crisis threatens to derail the housing industry and the country’s current economic expansion, and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is taking action. More than 10,000 NAHB members from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico sent a letter to the White House calling on President Biden to act.
In the letter, sent in late April, members of the housing community hammered home the message that rising costs stemming from historically high prices for lumber and other building materials, supply chain bottlenecks, surging interest rates, excessive regulations, and a persistent lack of skilled workers have combined to decrease housing affordability. And a new NAHB Housing Trends Report shows expectations for housing affordability and availability continue to worsen.
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But there is power in numbers, and the strength of our federation lies in utilizing our powerful grassroots network to call for meaningful steps to allow builders to increase the supply of affordable single-family and multifamily for-sale and for-rent housing.
Addressing Lumber Tariffs
In the letter, builders called on the White House to immediately suspend tariffs on softwood lumber imports from Canada and to move quickly to enter into negotiations for a new, long-term lumber agreement. Tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S., along with insufficient sawmill production and supply chain hurdles, have fueled lumber price volatility, adding nearly $19,000 to the price of a new home since last August. The jump also translates to $7,300 added to the market value of the average new multifamily home, equating to households paying almost $70 more per month to rent a new apartment. The letter also asks the White House to reform excessive federal regulations that are driving up housing costs. Regulations and government fees account for nearly 25% of the price of building a single-family home and more than 30% of the cost of a typical multifamily development.
While there has been some progress recently with lumber prices beginning to decline and the Commerce Department announcing a reduction in lumber tariffs, more must be done to improve housing affordability in this high-inflation environment, particularly as other building materials are up more than 20% year-over-year.
Easing Supply Chain Disruptions
To help ease the supply chain disruptions causing those prices to rise, NAHB is calling on Congress to act as well. Proposed legislation, including the No Timber From Tyrants Act from Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, can help address materials supply bottlenecks. Westerman’s proposal would ban wood product imports from Russia and Belarus while ramping up responsible harvesting of American timber from federal lands, in turn creating jobs at home. The Shipping Reform Act would address long-standing, systemic supply chain and port disruptions that have slowed movement of key building materials, pushing construction costs higher and negatively affecting affordability.
In addition, Congress needs to promote and fund job training programs to prepare individuals for careers in home building and pursue immigration policies that can help to fill huge labor gaps while still protecting the nation’s borders.
We must prevent the housing sector from faltering, or the overall economy will surely follow. Learn more about what NAHB is doing to address the lumber and material supply chain crisis at nahb.org/supplychain.
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