HUD Secretary Moon Landrieu told home builders today that his agency wants to "rid housing of excessive regulation" while providing more effective enforcement of antidiscrimination laws.
Landrieu's stance on regulations, which builders contend are raising prices of new homes by as much as 20 percent, drew rousing cheers at the National Association of Home Builders convention here. Speaking for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Landrieu told the builders they were "essentially partners with HUD" in an industry that affects the lives of all citizens "in a most sensitive way."
The former New Orleans mayor predicted 1.5 million housing starts this year, which he called "not disastrous." But he didn't discount the seriousness of a recent downturn in housing production that other forecasters have said might pull starts from the 1979 lever of 1.7 million to 1.4 million in '80.
"The housing downturn is disastrous to small businessmen who build houses" if they are unable to keep their operations alive during a slow market, Landrieu said.
Such failures would affect the total housing capacity of this nation, which must build 40 percent of all the housing that will be needed by the year 2000, he said. Landrieu also expressed concern for greater output of all U.S. U.S. products in "an era in which leisure is often emphasized more than the ethic."
Larry Simons, assistant secretary of HUD and a former builder, told reporters that proposed federal energy standards that might affect new house building as early as 1981 are still at the proposal stage.
Both Simons and Landrieu emphasized that the federal government is watching the housing market carefully with an eye to implementing programs that would stimulate building and would make ownership easier for some low to moderate income buyers through subsidy mortgage programs.
Most home builders here appeared to be only midly depressed by the recent housing market slump in some areas of the country. Those who have felt the economic crunch of an inventory of unsold houses took some solace from Oakley Hunter.
The chairman of the Federal National Mortgage Associaton told them the recent downturn "will be of lesser proportion and shorter duration than any of its recent predecessors." he said the industry is likely to be "back on its feet by mid-year and back to near normal by year-end."
To which several Washington-area builders said, "That is the sort of news we came out here to hear."