WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 7, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, issued the following statement on President Obama’s housing speech in Phoenix:
Today President Barack Obama gave a speech on housing that largely focused on helping middle class families become or remain homeowners. He laid out common sense principles that should guide federal policy and the practices of the housing finance industry. The President commended the Senators who are working on a bipartisan plan to wind down and replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He called for the swift confirmation by the Senate of Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) to be the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which the National Low Income Housing Coalition heartily supports.
Unfortunately, the President gave scant attention to the housing needs of the one-third of Americans who are renters. A balanced housing policy requires that the housing that someone rents is understood to be his or her home as much as the housing that someone buys.
While the President mentioned the need for more investment in affordable rental housing, missing from the speech was any reference to the 7.1 million unit shortage of rental housing that the lowest income families can afford, and the struggle that low wage workers and people on fixed incomes have just to come up with the rent each month.
The President’s only comment on homelessness was about homeless veterans, who are extremely deserving of assistance, but make up a small fraction of the homeless population.
A truly comprehensive housing speech would have called on Congress to pass a HUD budget for the next fiscal year that preserves the existing low income housing programs we have and restores funding for the HUD programs that have been decimated by the budget cuts and sequestration.
A speech that could have spoken to all Americans would have called for funding for the only viable solution to the affordable rental housing shortage– the National Housing Trust Fund.
Decent, affordable, and secure homes are fundamental to family and community life, regardless of income, race, age, disability, and geography. I know that President Obama understands this. I would like to hear him say it more often.