The nation's homebuilders called on the administration today to provide them with special emergency assistance in the form of $1 billion of mortgage interest-rate subsidies, credit allocations and savings programs targeted to housing.
The proposals are in sharp contrast to the position taken by the National Association of Home Builders here last year, when its board endorsed President Reagan's economic recovery program and asked little for its depressed industry.
Since then, the industry suffered its worst year since World War II and has concluded that 1982 will be at least as bad if the industry gets no help from the federal government.
"For homebuilders in many regions of the country, the recession is well into its third year, and there's no light at the end of the tunnel," newly elected NAHB President Fred Napolitano said today.
"Under the administration and the Federal Reserve Board's current policies, the outlook is grim," Napolitano said. "Production and sales will remain at record lows for at least the foreseeable future. It's going to be a very long, hard winter."
In resolutions adopted by the board of directors today, the association proposed a program by which the government would subsidize interest rates down to about 11 1/2 or 12 percent. The subsidy would be recaptured when the home was sold.
The group estimates such a program would cost $1 billion over five years for subsidizing rates on about 100,000 units. It also recognizes that the administration is unlikely to look favorably on such a program in this budget-conscious year.
In another reversal, the association asked the White House to delay tax cuts enacted last year and due to take effect this year and next as a way of reducing the federal deficit, which it sees as largely responsible for intractably high interest rates.
The group also called for a tax-exempt savings program, specifically targeted to support housing, to replace the All Savers certificates, due to expire at the end of 1982.
The homebuilders who attended this year's convention are the survivors of a devastated industry. Attendance here is way down from previous conventions. Bankruptcies of homebuilders increased 41 percent in 1981 from 1980, and many here say they do not know how they will survive another year.