Housing Group Calls for Economic Stimulus Package to  Bring Back Section 8 Production Program

By Keat Foong, Executive EditorWashington, D.C.— President-elect Barack Obama’s introduction this week of his economic team and his call for swift action to adopt an economic stimulus plan were welcomed by the National Leased Housing Association (NLHA).Denise Muha, executive director of NLHA, which represents affordable housing owners and managers, said that “bold action” is needed to stimulate the economy. “Some sort of stimulus program is absolutely needed,” she told MHN. Housing groups seem to be generally supportive of the government’s enactment of a big program to stimulate the economy. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has also called for “a second economic stimulus package that includes key housing recovery provisions.” Muha also commented that she is “very impressed with the [economic] team that [President-elect Obama] has put together.” “It is clearly top-notch.” Muha expressed the hope that the new Obama Administration will “consider affordable housing and the families that they serve.” “There is clearly a need for affordable housing in this environment.”NLHA is talking to lawmakers to include certain housing-related provisions in any economic stimulus package, said Muha. These include tax relief to remove current disincentives for owners to sell the affordable housing properties to those who can better recapitalize the assets. NLHA is also calling for provisions to “stimulate the economy through” a Section 8-type of affordable housing production program, said Muha. The group is proposing a program to produce or preserve about 100,000 units a year to help low-income residents and spur job creation, said Muha. The annual cost to the government could be about $600 million, she said. The New York Times reported that Congressional aides said that the economic recovery package Congress intends to move on could cost more than $500 billion. President-elect Obama had proposed a two-year economic stimulus package that would create or preserve 2.5 million jobs.