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Restore housing market to boost U.S. economy

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If President Obama and Governor Romney are serious about stimulating job and economic growth, they need to start by presenting their ideas on shoring up housing, which is the biggest financial asset of most American families.

During this presidential campaign, housing has been the elephant in the room that to date has not been addressed, even though the health of the nation's housing is directly linked to job creation, consumer confidence and a robust economy.

One need look no further than here in Minnesota where residential construction collapsed to 21 percent of normal production and now stands at just 28 percent of usual capacity.

To jump-start housing and the economy the presidential hopefuls must act to end the mortgage credit crunch that continues for prospective home buyers and reaffirm their support for the mortgage interest deduction. They also must urge regulators to keep low-downpayment options readily available so that creditworthy buyers can actually afford their mortgage, and retain a federal backstop for the U.S. housing finance system to ensure that 30-year mortgages remain readily accessible and affordable.

With the right policies in place, housing can once again serve as an engine of job growth. Building 100 single-family homes creates more than 300 full-time jobs. These homes also generate $8.9 million in local, state and federal income taxes, and provide a strong base for funding local schools, police and firefighters.

As the Nov. 6 elections draw near, the presidential contenders must understand that the American electorate expects the next White House occupant to take steps to restore the full health of the housing sector in order to create jobs and boost household wealth. -- Bryan Schoenberger, President, Lake Region Builders Association, Detroit Lakes

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