This week, President Obama took a three-day bus tour of the Midwest to press his jobs agenda. “My basic argument to them is this: We should not have to choose between getting our fiscal house in order, and jobs and growth,” said the President during a stop in Illinois. According to news reports, President Obama will make a major speech after Labor Day. He is expected to ask the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to make job creation part of its agenda.
There is no doubt that the moribund U.S. economy has many people deeply concerned. Stocks dropped this morning, and we see continued reports of home sales dipping below rates needed to sustain a healthy housing market.
Many recognize that the housing construction sector is a vital part of our economy, and that building new homes creates jobs and stimulates the economy. This fact doesn’t just count for market-rate housing; it counts for affordable housing as well.
The National Housing Trust Fund can be a key part of any jobs initiative. Every $10 billion spent through the National Housing Trust Fund will create 122,000 new jobs in the construction trades and 30,000 new ongoing jobs in the operation of the rental housing. To put this into perspective, recall that in July, U.S. employers added 117,000 jobs, not enough to significantly change the unemployment rate. That extra 122,000 jobs would be a welcome boost.
Today, there are 10 million extremely low income renter households in our country, and only 6.5 million rental homes they can afford. The chance to end this absolute housing shortage while creating thousands of desperately needed jobs should put the National Housing Trust Fund at the top of the jobs agenda.