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White House to meet with builders, unions on housing shortage

Eric Martin, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON — The White House will hold a meeting with representatives from across the home-building industry on Friday as President Joe Biden seeks to address a housing supply shortage that’s spurring a record increase in home prices.

Top Biden administration officials will sit down with representatives from across the supply chain, including builders, housing advocates, lumber companies, real estate firms, loggers and labor unions, according to White House officials. Builders cite high materials prices, scarce supplies and a dearth of skilled workers as ongoing challenges in the race to complete new homes.

Low mortgage rates and demand for properties in the suburbs spurred by remote work because of the coronavirus pandemic have fueled the U.S. housing market for more than a year. A lack of homes for purchase helped to push prices higher, with the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index climbing more than 14% from a year earlier in April, the most in data going back to 1988.

Biden announced the establishment of the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force last month to address near-term supply challenges to the economic recovery in four areas: homebuilding and construction; semiconductors; transportation; and agriculture and food. Friday’s meeting mirrors forums that Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has been leading to meet with business leaders to address the computer chip shortage.

“The first step is to really get everybody around the table and find out what’s happening, where is the system broken, and what can industry do better and differently,” Raimondo, who will be the lead cabinet member at the Friday gathering, said in an interview. “Some issues relate to logistics, so if there’s anything that the government can do to help with ports and other modes of transportation, we want to know about that.”

 

Friday’s meeting is to include Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice and Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Cecilia Rouse.

Biden’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure-focused American Jobs Plan unveiled in March calls for producing, preserving and retrofitting more than 2 million affordable and sustainable homes, including more than 500,000 new and rehabilitated homes for low- and moderate-income homebuyers and homeowners.

Demand for new homes sent lumber prices surging to a record in May, although prices have given back most of that gain in the past two months.

“Right now in America, it is harder to find an affordable home than at any point since the Great Recession,” Fudge said in a statement. “As prices climb, HUD — and the people we serve — depend on the work of the housing industry to supply affordable homes where families have access to jobs, education, and opportunity.”

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