White House rolls out plan to improve housing affordability

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White House officials are outlining plans to build and restore more than 2 million homes, a response to the volcanic rise in housing prices over the past year.

Millions of Americans are getting priced out of ownership or stuck spending the bulk of their income on rent. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index climbed a record 19.1% in June from a year ago, as too few homes are available to buy and low interest rates have enabled affluent buyers and real estate investors to pay more for homes.

The jump in prices is a threat to President Joe Biden’s vision of centering the U.S. economy on the middle class, a group that has defined itself in large part through home ownership. Americans’ desire to own homes has also altered regional politics as suburbanites aligned with Democrats in 2020 to help give Biden key victories in Arizona and Georgia, two states that have added population through new home construction.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers on Wednesday posted on its blog a detailed analysis of the affordability problem and the administration’s plans to relieve it. Its analysis notes that housing supply has fallen short of population growth for four decades, so many of the challenges predate the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers at the mortgage buyer Freddie Mac estimate that the United States is 3.8 million homes shy of what is needed to meet demand. The persistent shortage has meant that home prices are steadily increasing faster than incomes, making it harder for first-time buyers to save for down payments and keeping them in rentals longer. Nearly half of renters spend more than the recommended 30% of their incomes on housing.

To increase home construction, Biden’s economics team proposes a series of policy shifts.

First, it intends to deliver 100,000 affordable housing units over three years through a series of administrative changes. It will increase mortgage availability through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for manufactured houses and buildings with two to four units. The government also intends to make it easier for would-be owners and nonprofits to buy homes that failed to sell in foreclosure auctions, as well as expand outreach to local governments and nonprofits to buy federally held homes.

The government also plans to increase the financing options for apartment buildings through tax credits, loans and grants.

Secondly, the Biden administration estimates that its economic agenda would lead to the construction and renovation of 2 million homes. This would include the use of federal subsidies, the low-income housing tax credit, a new tax credit for construction in economically vulnerable neighborhoods and incentives to remove exclusionary zoning and land use policies by local and state governments that limit new construction.

Still, the blog post cautioned that a supply crunch could linger.

“There is no magic formula to quickly relieve the supply constraints,” it concluded.

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9 thoughts on “White House rolls out plan to improve housing affordability

  1. Over the last 50 years we’ve added more than 60 million people to the country via immigration. Might have something to do with the inability of supply to keep up with demand.

    1. The alternative would be an economy like Japan where they were finally starting to pull out of a 20 year long recession caused by shrinking populations It sounds like you have completely thought out your plan.

      Common Sense 101: A growing population enables a growing economy. A shrinking population will shrink the economy.

  2. Quote: Americans’ desire to own homes has also altered regional politics as suburbanites aligned with Democrats in 2020 to help give Biden key victories in Arizona and Georgia, two states that have added population through new home construction.

    Interesting that these two sates were mentioned, states where voting irregularities have been documented. Anyone who believes this dementia-addled nincompoop was elected honestly is delusional.

    1. Delusional. Matter of opinion. The delusion is voter fraud. The nation suffered a right-wing insurrection and attempted coup based on a lie and, most sad, aided and abetted by an ex-president who sat gleefully in front of a television as the chaos unfolded. Those who consider this action akin to normal or presidential or rational indicate all that is wrong with the United States. The democracy is a joke and that nation is broken.

      Suburbia in Atlanta is not suburbia in Indianapolis. The city of Atlanta comprises but 400,000+ of the 5.5 million metropolitan area comprising a very urbanized DeKalb County and higher-density urban-like areas, enclaves, and towns outside the city of Atlanta. The ‘suburbanite’ characterization of Arizona is wrong — the the democratic win in Maricopa County, Arizona is attributable to the significant growth of [the city of] Phoenix.

      And, the population growth led to housing construction. The areas noted are progressive, Indiana and its politics are not.

  3. If the Fed wanted to drop home prices by 10%, they should get rid of the Federal Income Tax Mortgage Exemption. For most first time buyers it is very little benefit. It does not come into play until you have enough income or expenses to itemize and so most of the benefit going to upper and upper middle class buyers.

    It also encourages people to keep trading up on housing which leads to things like smaller urban homes being undesirable, and adds urban sprawl as the top end earners are always looking for newer and bigger homes.

    I know most people should be smart enough to realize to “save” $300 on their taxes, they are spending $1000 on interest, but “saving” that money is a powerful incentive.

  4. Can’t help but wonder about all the folks who bought up housing stock and use them for Airbnb or VRBO. Houses and duplexes that could be entry level homes and are not in the typical real estate market now.

    1. It’s a hedge against inflation. Real estate investing is a long game. Unfortunately a lot of people (lower to middle class) don’t learn how to use money effectively. They don’t learn how to play the game our government designs.

  5. “The persistent shortage has meant that home prices are steadily increasing faster than incomes, …”
    So raise incomes. otherwise its just dog chasing tail. we have a demand problem not a supply problem. to continue down this supply path will only exacerbate the 45 year march to zero interest rates, doubling down on income inequality and asset price inflation. I’m surprised that the Biden economists think this will work. 1%’s don’t buy starter homes unless they rent them out.