The Fight for Housing Affordability is Ours

It is an honor and very humbling to be your incoming state association president. I sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence you have placed in me and the other senior officers who guide the HBA of Michigan. This is our association’s 67th year. Founded in 1949, the HBA of Michigan is one of the really great organizations in our state. We are the voice of housing. Yet too often we are the lone voice representing not only our profession, but the homeowners and future homeowners of our country. We believe that one of the fundamental rights we have as Americans is our right to live where we want, have choices and access to decent, safe and quality housing. We provide these many types of housing from new homes, condominiums, townhomes, rentals, multifamily apartments, and senior housing in all its varieties. What is good for home-owners is usually good for the building profession, so we are uniquely linked together. Future home buyers, in essence, need us to be their voice too. And there are many challenges that lie ahead.

We live and operate our businesses in the most over regulated and challenged building environment in our country’s history. There is a prevailing philosophy in many rungs of government that there should be even more regulations, and worse, even higher fees forced on Americans who want to build and/or renovate homes. Our very dedicated volunteers and staff have taken on many of these battles at the local and state level (and prevailed). However, I’m beginning to feel that while these are important victories, they are amounting to a guerrilla campaign in an overall larger war that we may lose. The cumulative impact of redundant, time consuming zoning and permit processes, unreasonable interpretations by zealous officials, who often have nothing but a desire for increased revenue on their mind, along with anti-growth agendas are creating serious obstacles in front of our homeowners obtaining affordable home ownership. I believe that what is at stake is the middle class’s right to build affordable homes.

NAHB has a study out that states that over 25% of the cost of a new home today is the result of government fees and regulations. We have become an industry where often our greatest competitors are the older, existing homes on the market. Most of these homes were built at a time when they didn’t have near the expense of compliance and building costs were substantially less overall. The nation’s percentage of home ownership in the population over the last ten years has been falling, and is now at the lowest point since 1996.

Your executive board and senior leadership recognize the importance of the fight for housing affordability and are developing a multi-pronged plan particularly as it relates to identifying areas where we can impact and reverse the trend of government overreach. Please let us know if you have any examples of this that can be documented. Many people depend on us and the work we do! Over the last three years as a senior officer I’ve come to see and appreciate how hard so many of you work on behalf of our federation. I’m very proud and honored to be your incoming President and I promise to simply do my best to help in any way I am able.

Thank You, LR Swadley

2017 HBA Michigan President l