03/09/2023 | by Sarah Borchersen-Keto

The supply of housing in the United States has “never been more out of balance”—with the lack of affordable housing particularly acute—making long-term policy initiatives on the federal, state, and local level more important than ever, says Sharon Wilson Géno, president of the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC).

Wilson Géno assumed the role of president from Doug Bibby in January, when he officially stepped down after more than 20 years of leading the organization.

Speaking on the REIT Report, Wilson Géno said, “The bottom line is, the demand for more housing in this country is as far as the eye can see.”

Research by NMHC and other organizations indicates that the U.S. housing stock is in a deficit of about 4 million units.

Wilson Géno said new households have formed in the wake of the pandemic, “and that really put a significant strain on the housing supply that was available.” Sizeable rent increases also occurred into the first half of 2022, she noted.

As the supply that was delayed in part due to COVID-19 and other market conditions is now coming online, rents have started to come down somewhat, she notes. “We believe that there will be some softening of the dramatic increases we saw in 2022. However, the bottom line remains that our government does not provide enough housing subsidy for people at the very low end of the scale that truly need it.”

As for possible solutions, Wilson Géno noted that one of the more interesting things in the Biden administration’s Housing Supply Action Plan is the possible opportunity for the federal government to incentivize state and local governments to change their zoning laws to create more multifamily units by offering federal transportation dollars. “To me, that's a very interesting concept.”

Wilson Géno also discussed rent control initiatives, saying that “they really only serve a small slice of those that need rental housing, and those are the people that have it today.” Such initiatives do not serve people that can't get access to housing in certain markets because there isn't sufficient supply, she added.

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