Buried in the nearly 950-page Agriculture Act of 2014 – more commonly known as the farm bill – is a provision that is of great importance to the thousands of families who rely on the rural housing programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The BPC Economic Policy Program hosted a panel discussion on Thursday, January 30 with three prominent economists who shared predictions on the state of the U.S. housing market in 2014. Richard Smith, BPC Housing Commissioner and CEO of Realogy Holdings Corp., moderated the forum.
What are the most promising opportunities to promote greater residential energy efficiency? Is there a role for the federal government?
There is growing awareness about the role of energy efficiency investments in fighting poverty. Reducing energy consumption in low-income housing not only lowers utility bills, but helps extend the life of the property by freeing up capital that can be used to address maintenance repair needs or make necessary improvements. Energy efficiency investments also create healthier living environments, which can lower the incidence of asthma, and other ailments that keep children home from school or adults from their jobs.
Our country is in the midst of a rental affordability crisis that is having a devastating impact on our nation’s most vulnerable families. Many of these families are forced to make the difficult choice of spending less on health care, food, and other basic necessities just to cover their housing costs. With rental demand expected to be strong throughout the remainder of the decade, rents are likely to rise even higher, exacerbating an already difficult, if not impossible, situation.
It may be hard to believe, but the greenhouse gas emissions of a typical home are double that of the average vehicle. In fact, the energy use associated with our homes accounts for some 21 percent of our nation’s overall energy consumption. That’s why a commitment to improving energy efficiency in housing must be a continued focus of our nation’s policymakers, particularly as the housing market begins to recover.
According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the national homeownership rate now stands at 65.3 percent, slightly higher than the rate registered in the second quarter of 2013 but nearly four percentage points lower than the record high rate of 69.2 percent in 2004.
What opportunities and challenges will immigration reform pose for future housing demand, housing markets, and/or economic revitalization?
Closing a New Generation Gap
By Lawrence Yun
The rate of home ownership among immigrants is largely a function of how long people have been in the United States. For those in the country less than five years, the homeownership rate is below 20 percent but climbs to almost 80 percent by their 40th year. That means past immigration will help boost current home buying demand and more recent arrivals will assist future demand.
The forum’s guest of honor, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-43), drew attention to her forthcoming bill on housing finance reform and told moderator Ron Brownstein of National Journal that it will be ready soon. She acknowledged the August regional housing forum we held in Dallas, Texas with her counterpart Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX-5) and added that she shares his vision of getting the House and Senate bills to conference. The anticipated legislation from ranking member Waters will elaborate upon the Democratic principles articulated earlier this year, calling for an explicit government guarantee and equal access to the secondary market for lenders of all sizes all in an effort to ensure the 30 year fixed rate mortgage remains an accessible product.
Pamela Hughes Patenaude, director of the BPC Housing Commission, was recently named as a Woman of Influence in HousingWire Magazine. This esteemed group of women was chosen because of their contributions to the U.S. housing economy.
Since the early twentieth century, the goal of homeownership has been almost synonymous with the American Dream. Because of the real and perceived benefits of owning a home, there has been a steady progression of governmental efforts to make this status achievable. Despite the longstanding national policy to encourage homeownership, however, a recent string of reports has presented some troubling news.