Policy

The Near- And Medium-Term Future Of Housing Is On '22 Ballot

The 2022 midterm elections will likely meaningfully impact lives, livelihoods, assets, entities, and going-concerns orbiting the sphere of homes, neighborhoods, shelter, and what it will take to make more of them all.

Policy

The Near- And Medium-Term Future Of Housing Is On '22 Ballot

The 2022 midterm elections will likely meaningfully impact lives, livelihoods, assets, entities, and going-concerns orbiting the sphere of homes, neighborhoods, shelter, and what it will take to make more of them all.

November 7th, 2022
The Near- And Medium-Term Future Of Housing Is On '22 Ballot
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By all rights, a midterm election day eve and the near- and medium-term fates and fortunes of America's housing market should probably have less to do with one another than they do.

A punchline that wears all too well over the years – "It's the economy, stupid" – may be the only best explanation for why what ought to be an arms-length relationship is instead a deep embrace.

Nearly everything has become more expensive compared to a year ago. The cost of food, rent, energy, medical care, and new cars has soared in the past year. Rising prices have weighed heavily on the minds of voters who will soon determine the outcome of elections across the country and could lead to a shift in control of the House and Senate, which has big implications for the Biden administration’s policy agenda.
According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, the economy was the top issue for voters: 79 percent of registered voters said the economy would be very important to their voting decisions, which was the highest share of the 18 issues included." – Vox, economic policy reporter Madeleine Ngo

When we look even more deeply at the double-helix-like relationship between the kitchen table and the ballot box, we see that it dates back millennia, to where   roots causes spring from homes and housing as their origin.

The English term ‘Economics’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Oikonomia’. Its meaning is ‘household management’. Economics was first read in ancient Greece. Aristotle, the Greek Philosopher termed Economics as a science of ‘household management’. But with the change of time and progress of civilization, the economic condition of man changes. As a result, an evolutionary change in the definition of Economics is noticed. Towards the end of the eighteenth century Adam Smith, the celebrated English Economist and the father of Economics, termed Economics as the ‘Science of Wealth’. According to him, “Economics is a science that enquires into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations”. – WikiEducator

So, it's settled. The 2022 midterm elections tomorrow can and will likely,  meaningfully impact lives, livelihoods, assets, entities, and going-concerns orbiting the sphere of homes, neighborhoods, shelter, and their near- and medium-term future.

We see this in a story like the one Politico's Katy O'Donnell published this past Friday.

The Fed crashed the housing market. Builders and banks want help.

We pick up the same vibe in Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan's latest piece of commentary:

Your Duty as a Voter Is to Take the Election Seriously

Each of these pieces in its way shows meaning and moment have converged, arm's or any other measure of distance have vanished, and tomorrow marks a line in the sand, not just in how policy, politics, and polarization sway the balances of household, local municipal, regional, national, and global economies, but in the essence of who has a say in policy, and how discourse fits into shaping policy's future – or does it?

O'Donnell's piece at a high level is about a gigantic challenge and a deadline – a combination of conditions one looks at either as an unrealistic fantasy or as a game-changing opportunity. The gigantic challenge is, of course, a Fed-engineered, rapidly deteriorating market-driven capability to "surge" housing production at exactly the wrong moment, practically dooming a repeat of structurally inflationary forces even after a potentially lethal blow to macro economic health in the months ahead.

The deadline O'Donnell's expertise sets its sights on is a post-midterm election lame duck window – it would count 35 or so days down to the next Congressional recess for the holidays.

She writes:

The industry is pinning its hopes for a supply boost on two bipartisan bills — the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act S. 98 (117) and the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act S. 1136 (117) – that would expand the tax credits available to developers who build affordable housing. The Fudge-Yellen op-ed called the bills the “fastest way to surge the production and preservation of affordable rental and owner-occupied housing in communities nationwide.”
Enactment of the legislation would lead to the creation of more than 2 million housing units over 10 years, according to housing industry groups.
The hope among advocates is that Congress will pass the bills as part of a year-end tax package when lawmakers return after the midterm election.

Of course, any analysis of policymaking containing the word "bipartisan" – despite it being mechanically possible – ranks among the longest of long-shots, but as National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard notes in the story:

The most bipartisan issue facing any Congress ever is housing."

This is where the wisdom and relevance of Peggy Noonan's latest column shines through, not simply for lame-duck jockeying and machinations, but for what really comes next as regards the chronically self-cancelling forces of "policy" and private sector market rate housing investment and business interests.

Is it our duty to vote? Noonan asks. Her answer to that question is at the heart of her 1,200-word or so commentary. Maybe not. Or, as she writes:

If at this point in your life, for whatever reason, you don’t care that much and haven’t bothered to learn much and get a sense of the candidates—if in your heart you know you’re not as committed and informed as the neighbors, who are always going out to meetings and helping local groups—then I say it would be honorable to hold off and spend the next few years studying. This would be an act of humility. Democracies can’t continue without at least someone being humble."

Noonan's heartfelt wish that Tuesday's in-person voter queues reflect a "historically high ... serious person" turnout redounds to what we do when we exercise our privilege to vote, to choose political leaders. She writes:

Politics is a profession, a serious one for serious people, and, for its successful practitioners, one closer to art than we know. Artists try to apprehend the big picture quickly and, at the same time, get to the heart of it. My fear of current leaders now, many of them, is that they came to full adulthood in the past 30 years, in the internet age, and are more about the picture and the video than the book. They are strategic but not reflective. They don’t read. They see feeling as more important than thinking.

This kind of leadership – which could cut through partisan surreality and actually result in policy and resources that could impact both the housing market and millions of people and households shut out of participating in it within the next 20 or so working days before the lame duck window closes – is not about seizing a narrative. Noonan writes:

How you communicate your feelings about the facts isn’t the issue—suburban women don’t care about your feelings. They care about real-world things. If you don’t understand this you won’t be able to dig your way out.

In real life, economics [and housing] and the ballot box are never really at arm's length from one another.

This is why, whatever the outcomes of the midterms, housing's leaders should – in force – pressure Congress to act like working, serious professionals as they consider the merits of the two bills – the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act S. 98 (117) and the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act S. 1136 (117) – that will be there for them when they return to session after this week's elections.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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