This month, NHC has formally begun the long, hard effort to draft a national housing act for the 21 st century. We have been building awareness and support for the concept, but now we are putting pen to paper under the leadership of five sub-groups that will develop recommendations on legislation to address the shortage of affordable homeownership opportunities, the lack of affordable rental housing, ending homelessness, climate impact, and community development. If you are an NHC member and are interested in participating in one or more of these working groups, please contact Tristan Breaux to sign up and we will include you in our scheduling notices.
We’ve written about the importance of a national housing act for the 21 st century, most recently in my op-ed in The Hill. That was the easy part. But as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently said about Congressional leadership, “we have a responsibility to get something done, which is different from advocacy. We have to have a solution…” I couldn’t agree more. Our process will start with our members offering suggestions on how we can modernize the 50-year-old infrastructure of our housing economy so that home builders can build more of the homes we need the most, lenders can make more loans to those currently underserved, and housing organizations can be more effective and efficient in serving their constituents. We also need to be sure that we aren’t wasting precious resources when we respond to the impact of our changing climate by treating the 500-year flood like a 500-year occurrence when in fact it is happening every few years.
We are not new to this process, but it has been a while. NHC led similar successful efforts in 1933-1937, culminating with the passage of the 1937 Housing Act; in 1946-1949, when we wrote the 1949 National Housing Act; and in 1961-1968, which led to the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1965 and signing of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968. We also worked closely with the NAACP and the National Urban League to support their efforts to enact the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
This is our opportunity – your opportunity – to once again be a part of history in the making. We often say that NHC is only as strong as our members, and this has never been truer than right now. We hope that you will join us in the effort, and if you are not currently a member, join us to be a part of this endeavor. Together, we can do so much more than any of us can do alone!