US homebuilders are upping pressure on the Biden Administration to rein in lumber prices, which remain at historic highs.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) CEO Jerry Howard and his senior staff met virtually last week with White House staff from the Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council and the Office of the Vice President, the company said in a statement, in a far-ranging discussion that included mill capacity issues, mill worker shortages, and the impact of lumber prices on housing affordability crisis.
The recent spike in lumber prices has added nearly $36,000 to the price of an average new single-family home and $119 more a month to rent a new apartment, according to NAHB estimates. The organization is urging the White House to hold a summit on lumber and building material supply chain issues and to temporarily ease 9% tariffs on Canadian lumber to beat back pricing volatility.
In a statement on the discussion, NAHB said the Biden Administration “was noncommittal on both requests but the door remains open for future talks.”
The meeting is the latest in a string of discussions NAHB has held with congressional leaders and administration officials, and the organization has also actively engaged its local chapters to lobby on a grassroots level. Earlier this spring, Representatives Jim Costa (D-California) and Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) called on President Biden to intervene, asserting in a letter that rising building materials costs and supply shortages could pressure economic recovery.
“Unfortunately, this unprecedented price increase on new homeowners, as well as home builders, will persist until new sawmills come online and current mills re-open and operate at full capacity,” the two congressmen wrote in the letter, which requested the administration connect with all stakeholders, including sawmills, home builders, loggers and distributors, to find an appropriate solution.
NAHB has also asked the Commerce Department to investigate the issue, specifically the low levels of lumber production and sawmill output despite booming demand for materials.
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