Homebuilders set to endorse in House, Senate races

Homebuilders set to endorse in House, Senate races

Homebuilders will for the first time in their 74-year history endorse candidates in House and Senate races in a concerted effort to move housing priorities up the congressional agenda. 

Jerry Howard, CEO of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), said the decision to support pro-housing candidates in both parties was less influenced by this election cycle and was more a determination that the housing sector's issues have been largely left off Washington's legislative agenda since the recession. 

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"Looking back over the last several years and seeing that as the housing sector suffered there hasn’t been enough aggressive action taken by Congress," Howard told The Hill.

"And so we just decided it was the right time to do it, and hopefully make this our position and our policy going forward," he said.

Builders kicked off their new policy with their first two endorsements on Tuesday — Iowa Republican Reps. David Young and Rod Blum, each vying for a second term.

For a sector that represents at least 15 percent of U.S. growth, Howard said there should be more attention placed on what the industry needs to thrive.

"I think it's a very bold move but I think it's the right time for it," Howard said.

Howard said the goal will be to endorse a candidate in every House and Senate race.

The group will not endorse for president.

Housing and mortgage advocates have been urging lawmakers to take action for years on several fronts, including streamlining regulatory burdens on the industry and tackling housing finance reform, the last piece of legislation left over from the 2008 financial crisis. 

Congress has worked around the edges on a plan to overhaul government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but have yet to produce a final bill.

Other issues include easing tight credit conditions for home buyers and ensuring that tax reform efforts protect incentives such as the mortgage interest deduction.

In the coming days and weeks, builders will coordinate with their state and local associations on additional endorsements.

“As housing goes, so goes the economy,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a homebuilder and developer from Bloomington, Ill.

"This election could determine if the housing and economic recovery stays on track or veers off course," he said.