Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit ecumenical Christian organization devoted to “a world where everyone has a decent place to live” recently recommended steps Congress can take to help promote affordable housing for all Americans.
Arguing that the housing bust was the result of banks’ investment activity and not the product of any action or failure to act by low income Americans, Habitat urged the government to continue to seek ways to subsidize housing. Citing the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Habitat claimed, “the construction of 100 new single family homes in America yields the equivalent of 324 full-time jobs and $21m in company and individual incomes.” With that kind of return on investment, maybe the feds should turn from bailing out banks to bailing out builders. (The latter was not on Habitat’s list.)
Habitat, according to Eleanor Perkins, has recommended the following:
1. The federal government should continue its role as an “insurer of last resort” for home mortgages.
2. Dodd-Frank and other regulatory approaches need to take into account the innovative financing needs of low-income buyers such as “sweat equity” models. A number of these programs were extinguished when G.W. Bush was in office.
3. Government should support a variety of housing options including individual home ownership and rentals.
4. Federal programs should “(e)ncourage …. shared equity approaches, land trusts, deed restrictions and subordinate mortgages.”
5. Finally, according to Habitat, the feds should support both energy efficiency and “mixed-income” projects.