Bryan Greene, Vice President of Policy Advocacy for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) along with several other senior housing officials recently joined the national think tank Third Way for a discussion on how to solve the housing crisis, with a focus on increasing availability, affordability and accessibility for all, announced the NAR.
Greene was joined by Gene Sperling, U.S. bailout coordinator and senior adviser to the president; Erika Poethig, Special Assistant to the President for Housing and Urban Policy, White House Domestic Policy Council; and Lisa Rice, President and CEO, National Fair Housing Alliance. Greene worked for 29 years at HUD’s Office of Fair Housing before joining NAR in 2019.
“We’re the largest trade organization in the country, with 1.5 million members nationwide, so when we roar, we’re heard,” Greene said. “We roared on the housing supply.”
Greene highlighted the policy proposals that NAR is pursuing to make homeownership accessible to more people, including down payment assistance, alternative credit, and special purpose credit programs. As a founding member of the Black Homeownership Collaborative, NAR supports the 3by30 initiative, which promotes many of these policy solutions with the goal of adding three million net new black homeowners by 2030.
“The big challenge is that, even doing all of these things, it will be difficult to keep up with the constant rise in prices and, on top of that, rising interest rates,” Greene said. “So we need to address the root cause…the lack of housing production.”
Greene described provisioning solutions that can be activated immediately, such as:
- Conversion of underutilized commercial properties into residences
- Rehabilitating houses thanks to the Law on investment in neighborhood houses
- Reduce capital gains taxes to encourage the sale of single-family homes currently held up in the market.
“Overall, we need to push this as a national priority,” he added.
Greene also praised the work of the NAR research team. “They are publishing research drawing attention to these issues, and policymakers are listening.”
Greene cited recent NAR reports that examine the impact of the housing crisis on potential home buyers in various demographic groups. The double trouble of the housing market examines how the “twin issues” simultaneously affecting the real estate market—record house prices and record inventories—create barriers for many Americans to access homeownership, especially black Americans.
Barriers to Buying a Home in 2022 explores current barriers to home buying broken down by race/ethnicity and finds that the lack of affordable homes is the number one barrier holding back potential buyers of all races. Housing is an essential infrastructure highlights the vast underconstruction gap in the United States and the consequences of underinvestment in housing.
In his opening remarks, Sperling highlighted the important role the Emergency Rental Assistance Program has played in keeping people in their homes during the pandemic. While acknowledging the challenges of its deployment, he considered it “one of the most rewarding programs” in the US rescue plan. NAR has strongly advocated for this relief on behalf of struggling tenants and homeowners, helping secure nearly $50 billion in funding.
“At this time, five million payments have been made to households and homeowners,” Sperling said. “There has never been anything like it.”
For more information, visit https://www.nar.realtor/.