To: NAHB Members
State and Local Executive Officers
From: Chuck Fowke, NAHB Chairman
Re: White House Summit on Building Materials
I am pleased to report that NAHB’s tireless efforts to engage the White House to convene a home building materials supply chain summit to seek out solutions to end production bottlenecks that have resulted in soaring material prices has borne fruit.
This afternoon, NAHB, along with a diverse group of stakeholders, participated in a virtual discussion regarding current challenges across the home building supply chain, its implications for the broader housing market, and possible solutions. Administration officials participating in the event included Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Ambassador Susan Rice, and Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Cecelia Rouse.
Thanks to our ongoing efforts, the issue of rising material prices and supply shortages has been brought front and center to the Biden administration. NAHB stressed at this meeting that it is imperative that lumber mill producers boost production in order to meet rising demand.
A Year-Long Effort
I want to stress that this meeting was the culmination of a year-long effort where NAHB has been in the forefront in educating the public and policymakers about how rising lumber and building material prices are harming home builders, home buyers and the economic recovery.
NAHB leaders have appeared on CBS This Morning and numerous times on Fox Business News. We have also been featured in Bloomberg, CNN Business, Fortune, CNBC and scores of local media outlets across the nation calling for action to address rising prices and supply shortages. Overall on the media front, we have earned more than $50 million in media coverage, with over 11,000 stories featured in national and local news. Effectively, we got $50 million in national publicity for free rather than having to pay for it.
In the policy arena, we have reached out to virtually every member of Congress on this issue and held talks with top White House officials and Cabinet leaders. Thanks to the outreach of NAHB and our grassroots membership, several House and Senate leaders have openly raised the issue of soaring lumber prices and housing affordability with Secretary Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. These efforts helped pave the way for today’s meeting. In fact, Secretary Raimondo addressed the NAHB Leadership Council on June 28 and said that “supply chain disruptions are at the top of my mind.”
In another positive development, many of you may have seen media reports about the recent sharp drop in lumber prices. While this is good news, the lumber crisis is far from over. Most builders have not been able to take advantage of this development because producers are still selling off lumber that they purchased from mills when prices were at their peak. Moreover, sawmill output continues to lag. During today’s meeting, we underscored that if supply does not increase fast enough to meet demand, we may find ourselves in the same situation as last November, when lumber prices posted a similar steep reduction only to reverse course and move to record-high levels.
And while lumber prices have just recently begun to move downward, the price for other building materials, such as oriented strand board, continue to soar.
While today’s White House meeting was a step forward, we are not out of the woods yet. Looking ahead, we will remain laser-focused on not only lowering lumber prices and increasing supply, but also keeping pressure on policymakers to improve supply chains for all building materials in order to protect housing affordability. I want you to know that NAHB will continue to work relentlessly on all fronts to find solutions that will ensure a lasting and stable supply of lumber and other building materials for the home building industry at a competitive price.
I invite you to learn more about what NAHB is doing to resolve the lumber crisis by visiting our lumber page at nahb.org.
John C. Fowke