How can housing policy be responsive to today’s urgent needs (e.g., foreclosures, a sluggish housing market, affordability, etc.) and simultaneously address long-term trends (e.g., an aging population, growth of younger households)?
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Good housing policy requires flexibility to address different local market needs, and access to reasonable long-term financing for both homeownership and rental housing, while also promoting long-term sustainability. Top-down policies and resources with many rigid requirements cannot meet the diverse housing needs of urban, rural, and suburban markets, or effectively handle market differences in various regions of the country—either now or in the future.
Today’s market requires a rebuilding of confidence in the housing sector. Reasonable down payment standards for qualified prepared homebuyers is one example of a tool that can help reinvigorate the sector in these challenging times. Continued commitment to the low income housing tax credit is equally essential to provide much needed multifamily housing, and stimulate jobs and investment.
Housing policy must also address the many components of long-term sustainability: long-term affordability for renters and for owners, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, and durable new construction and rehabilitation.
For instance, as we think in the short-term about how to deal with the REO inventory, it is easy to fall back on solutions that will create an easy return for investors. We must ensure that policies designed to maximize return do not result in properties that fall into disrepair quickly. Properties in poor condition will not be attractive to potential homebuyers as the market rebounds, and will become a burden to the tenant, the landlord, and the surrounding community. Instead, policies and resources must be flexible enough to promote a sustainable investment in the REO inventory that rehabilitates properties so that they remain in good condition over the long-term, and remain assets in their communities.
Eileen Fitzgerald is Chief Executive Officer of NeighborWorks America.
Welcome to the BPC Housing Commission expert forum! This forum is intended to foster interactive and substantive discussion about pressing housing issues. Each month contributors from different parts of the housing sector will be invited to respond to a discussion topic. Guest posts will feature prominently on BPC’s website, as well as be shared regularly with Housing Commissioners to help inform their work.
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