PRESIDENT'S CORNER: More Housing is Good for Equity, Fair Housing and the Economy

Time marches on, and there is just no stopping it! I hope that you have had an enjoyable summer. Do you feel the energy in our association as we move forward and plan for the future?

Hispanic Heritage Month is held every year starting on September 15th and running through October 15th to celebrate and honor the many contributions, the diverse culture and the rich history of the American Hispanic community. Now that the real estate market in the Hudson Valley and the Bronx is returning to more normal conditions, the real estate market should improve for the Hispanic community and all those looking to purchase entry-level homes.

The future looks bright for the housing industry, thanks in large part to the growth of the Hispanic community in the United States. It has been estimated that 70% of the housing growth over the next 20 years will come from Latino households. Fifty-one percent of our population growth and 80% of the labor growth in the United States over the last 10 years comes from the Hispanic community.

Most concerning, there is no immediate solution to reduce housing costs. The biggest obstacles to achieving affordability in New York City are the high price of construction and property tax system in which the assessment on multifamily rental buildings is passed along to tenants. The primary city-subsidized housing production programs, 421a and J-51, have sun set. This leaves developers and building owners with no as-of-right tax abatements. As a result, the meager production of affordable housing that we have seen over the past decade is going to further decline. Blaming landlords for high rents does not lead to any solutions because they don’t have control over the most important factors that increase the construction costs and discourage the production of housing. The point I am trying to make is that there are lots of creative ways to make more affordable housing, but they don’t necessarily pass a political litmus test. With that said, The Biden Administration in July announced new steps to tackle the housing supply crisis. As Realtors, we need to recognize the NAR’s landmark 2021 report, “Housing Is Critical Infrastructure,” which indicates a shortfall of 5.5 million homes in the U.S.—a gap so large it would take more than a decade to dig out of, even with accelerated new construction. This hurts first-time, first-generation, and middle-income Americans the most.

So, what can Realtors do to help move the needle on these important issues? We must fight against “NIMBYism” (the not-in-my-backyard mentality) relating to affordable housing by spreading the word about its positive impacts on individuals and families in need of housing, as well as for our communities at large. We must push for creative finance to allow more to qualify for a mortgage and, to push for alternate credit score pathways. There are no simple solutions to housing affordability. With the focus on solutions and innovation, it is possible to identify marvelous creativity at the “grassroots level.” As we recognize the innovations that are in progress, it helps to highlight the directions and paths that should be followed to improve housing affordability.

We can’t address housing without addressing racial inequities. People of color are significantly more likely than white people to experience evictions and homelessness in the United States, the result of centuries of structural racism that continues today, that has systematically and purposefully excluded African Americans and others from equal access to housing, community supports and opportunities for economic mobility. We must commit to right these wrongs and work towards racial equity in housing—we can’t address racial inequities without addressing housing, and we cannot solve housing inequities without addressing race.

The key to effecting positive change lies in partnerships and advocacy efforts at local, state and national agencies and the community. We must elevate affordable housing to a top issue and make this nonpartisan. It’s about people, not party.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead

We can’t do this alone—New York City and Albany too must step up. They do have the tools to take care of the area of greatest need: the intense shortage of deeply affordable housing, where there is virtually no vacancy at the lowest rent levels. As we have seen, building more housing is a realistic area of tremendous opportunity for New York—and it is one that we simply cannot afford to miss.

In other words, more housing is good for equity, fair housing, and the economy. It is a win-win-win.

In closing, September is a designated as “Realtor Safety Month.” The National Association of Realtors has webinars, and videos that you could include in your office meetings or encourage your agents to view them; including personal protection resources. Talk about safety; create a safety plan, follow it, and encourage your fellow Realtors to do the same each day. Here is the link:

As always, thank you all for being so supportive and working together as a team to accomplish goals for the betterment of the organization. It is my honor to serve all of you.

Remember that if you ever have questions, suggestions, or concerns you can always contact me at any time. I want to hear from you!

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