Nonprofit Calls on Congress to Renew Focus on Affordable Housing

It is no surprise the State of the Union address already is generating a lot of buzz about the details that will shape the president’s proposals.

Among others, President Obama revisited the refinancing idea and other ways how to speed up the housing market recovery, but did not provide any specifics prompting suggestions from affordable housing advocates.

Chris Estes, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference, applauded the president for recognizing “the essential connections between housing and our country's future.”

But refinancing alone “will not solve our housing challenges,” he noted in a response issued following the State of the Union address.

NHC praised the president for recognizing the need “to invest in communities, particularly those that saw wealth erased by the housing bust and neighborhoods devastated by waves of foreclosures,” but warned that there is a pressing need to build on the solutions developed through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

While the president's proposal to target resources toward the nation’s top 20 towns that were hit the hardest by the crisis “is certainly a start,” the fight to revitalize struggling communities and prevent further damage from foreclosures is far from over, NHC said. “There are too many communities in need to limit our efforts to a pilot program.”

The nonprofit supports the principle behind President Obama's call for refinancing home mortgages because “low wealth should not preclude households from becoming responsible homeowners.”

Not only, NHC also calls on Congress to use it as “a guide to reforming our system of mortgage finance” so long-term fixed-rate mortgages, financing for multifamily affordable housing and access to rental and owned homes is available for low- and moderate-income families.

Since vibrant housing markets and access to affordable housing that enables households to build wealth will help the country to emerge fully from the Great Recession, Estes added, affordable housing market expertise is vital to creating the forward-looking solutions the country needs.