To get more women working in the residential construction sector and overall workforce, lawmakers must pursue flexible, targeted and incentive-based strategies to tackle the high cost of childcare and availability of paid leave, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) told Congress this week.
Testifying on behalf of NAHB before the House Ways and Means Committee, NAHB First Vice Chairman Alicia Huey, a custom home builder, remodeler and developer from Birmingham, Ala., told lawmakers that increasing female participation in the construction trades is one key to solving the industry’s labor shortages.
“Congress should pass the Protecting Worker Paychecks and Family Choice Act, which would expand the Paid Family and Medical Leave tax credit to make it more generous for small businesses and make it more affordable for small businesses to offer paid leave by expanding pooling options,” said Huey. “Similarly, Congress should ensure that existing tax incentives for employer-provided childcare are flexible for businesses. This will help more women who are currently unable to work to get jobs.”
Citing Census Bureau data that shows the lack of housing affordability hits female-led head of households particularly hard, Huey urged Congress to focus on the large role that a lack of affordable housing plays as a barrier to women entering the workforce.
“With home prices and rents rising even faster than inflation, and a growing scarcity of entry-level owner-occupied housing along with affordable rental units, Americans are being squeezed hard, particularly single-parent households that are headed predominantly by women,” said Huey.
To address the housing affordability crisis, construction labor shortages and building material supply-side challenges that are driving up inflation and raising housing costs, Huey urged Congress to take the following steps:
- Pass the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which would strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and help finance the production and preservation of more than 2 million additional multifamily units over the next decade.
- Convert the mortgage interest deduction to a targeted, ongoing mortgage interest credit, which would better reach lower and moderate-income Americans.
- Ensure that vocational training opportunities stand on the same footing as a four-year college path.
- Call on the Biden administration to suspend tariffs on Canadian lumber imports to reduce unprecedented lumber price volatility and immediately enter into negotiations with Canada on a new softwood lumber agreement.
- Pass the No Timber from Tyrants Act, which would ban lumber imports from Russia and ramp up responsible harvesting of timber from federal lands.