The White House has hosted its fair share of summits since President Obama took office. There have been open-door collaborations on community colleges, Israel, entrepreneurship, job creation, health care, bullying in schools. Heck, the president even hosted a beer summit in the summer of 2009. But as home owners struggle to overcome market uncertainty and financial hardships, the one glaring issue that’s failed to get its day in the spotlight is housing.
Last month alone, some 200,000-plus foreclosure filings were reported as a growing roster of proposed regulations and possible legislation loom over those of us who’ve pursued the American dream through the purchase of a home, or would like to. And just this summer, President Obama said his administration would be “going back to the drawing board” after conceding that the housing market was faltering.
So why isn’t there more emphasis on an issue that many would argue is the heart and soul of the U.S. economy?
That’s exactly what House Democrats asked when they recently called on the administration to provide a briefing on the White House’s new housing plan. Originally denied, the lawmakers’ request to meet with a top housing official was granted last week, after members of Congress expressed their frustration with Obama’s lack of focus on the housing market.
“The administration has been AWOL on this issue,” said Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA). “And the American people are suffering because of mismanagement.”
While House Dems were working to convince the White House to share its strategy for resolving the nation’s real estate woes, industry leaders began taking matters into their own hands. Think tanks e21 and the Progressive Policy Institute rallied the country’s top experts on housing policy and housing finance to participate in an Oct. 4 meeting, “New Solutions for America’s Housing Crisis.”
Slated as a way to elevate housing as a critical piece of the national debate on economic recovery, the conference is expected to bring together more than 100 members of the Washington policy community, including Hill staff, thought leaders and academics, industry reps, and press.
HouseLogic will be on hand to cover the event. It’s safe to assume that the group will tackle at least four topics that are threatening home ownership and stalling America’s economic revival: mortgage interest deduction (MID), the 20% down payment proposal, reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and changes to the FHA’s loan programs.
Despite the best efforts of some lawmakers and industry influencers, the road to housing recovery will remain unpaved without the full participation and collaboration of Congress, constituents, housing experts, and the Obama administration. It’s time for Washington to show some support for the nation’s 75 million home owners by addressing the dangerous regulations and proposed legislation that would further cripple the already-fragile housing market — and by default, the country’s economy.
So, is a conference on housing the answer? Of course not. But it’s a step in the right direction and a signal to America that the administration is taking the issue seriously.
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