October 26, 2011 (Jeff Alan)

With more than 1.4 million residential construction workers idled since April 2006 and with policy headwinds keeping home buyers on the sidelines and harming the economy, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is urging all presidential contenders to specify their policy proposals to spur the housing market.

Citing reports from the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC and other media outlets, NAHB noted that the Republican presidential contenders let a great opportunity to explain how they would address the nation’s housing problems slip away during the presidential debate on Tuesday of last week.

“There can be no economic recovery without a housing recovery, yet the silence on housing was deafening during the debate,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. “It is particularly ironic that with the debate setting in Las Vegas, the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis, the candidates chose to duck this topic and other critical housing issues.”

Nielson also noted that the lack of specific policy proposals wasn’t just limited to the GOP contenders but also directed towards the Obama administration.

“President Obama needs to take an affirmative position on homeownership as well,” he said. “The failure of the Administration to put forth pro-housing policies is impeding the economic recovery and hurting job growth and consumer confidence.”

NAHB points out that in normal times, housing accounts for more than 17 percent of the nation’s economic output with 305 full-time jobs, $23.1 million in wage and business income and $8.9 million in taxes and revenue for state, local and federal governments generated for every 100 single-family homes that are built.

But the strong policy headwinds coming out of Washington threaten to prevent workers from returning to their jobs, keep homebuyers on the sidelines and diminish an economic recovery.

Policies being debated such as mandating 20 percent down payments, abolishing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and eliminating or reducing the mortgage interest deduction would all deter a housing recovery according to NAHB.

“Instead of arguing who was to blame for the downturn, all the 2012 presidential hopefuls need to be addressing these housing issues head-on,” said Nielsen. “Housing and homeownership are critical to a strong and prosperous nation. If any of these anti-housing policies are codified, it could fundamentally alter the ability of the nation to sustain a middle class that has contributed to a century of economic progress.”

Tags: NAHB, residential construction, presidential contenders, housing policies, GOP, Obama, economic recovery, downturn blame