Affordable Housing Discussion: Mainstreet Hosts Trio of Panelists to Examine the State of Housing in 2024

Georgios Banquets, Orland Park –Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® hosted their annual Affordable Housing Summit and Expo, providing vital housing resources to attendees in coordination with celebrating Fair Housing Month. Keynote speakers and panelists discussed the challenges immigrants face in the continuous struggle to buy or rent housing in both Canada and the United States.

Following David Zvernow and his introductory immigration presentation was the highly anticipated, “Balancing Perspectives: Navigating Immigration Impact on Housing Affordability in times of Population Growth” speaker panel.

Featured on stage were three subject matter experts from Canada, Washington D.C. and Illinois: Mr. Dil Puar, Director of Government Relations from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Mr. Bryan Greene, Vice President of Policy Advocacy for NAR Washington D.C. and Ms. Mabél Guzman, Coldwell Banker Realty and NAHREP DuPage County.

The essential question being considered by this panel comes from the same vein as David Zvenow:

“What can we learn from Canada’s immigrant population growth and the effect on housing availability and affordability?”

Mr. Puar travelled far and wide to be at this Mainstreet Signature Event, coming all the way from Canada to bring his expertise about the Canadian housing market to the U.S. His message for the attendees was clear: “We need immigrants in Canada to offset our labor shortages.”

He went on to say, “Canada invites and welcomes immigrants because we cannot staff our basic industry needs without their help. Hotels, construction, food and beverage; we have to balance our personnel needs with affordable housing availability.”

The consequential impact of needing immigrants to mitigate national work force deficiencies is immediate: housing. Once immigrants are provided opportunities to work, it is increasingly difficult to find affordable housing for working class people due to inventory shortages and unaffordable mortgage rates.

Speaking on behalf of NAR, Mr. Greene elaborated on the scarcity of affordable housing as it relates to housing developers, explaining that “Developers who even want to build affordable housing face great challenges because of high land costs, inflated construction costs and regulatory issues or zoning issues prohibiting these builds. However, developers can earn tax credits as an incentive which is a smart route to go. HUD is also working to provide more resources for affordable housing but again these efforts are nowhere near meeting the demand.”

Mr. Greene explains to attendee’s that the housing crisis is an issue for people of all stripes, “the lack of action on housing has been bipartisan. Local, state and federal land zoning is the crux of what is making housing unaffordable or even being built.”

As he prepared to pass the microphone to the next panelist, Mr. Greene pulled the curtain back about the NAR estimates for the housing inventory shortage saying, “By our best estimates we have about a 6.7-million-unit shortage in the country and the majority of Americans cannot afford the average home in the United States.”

Mabél Guzman spearheaded the housing affordability issue in Illinois specifically, taking aim at both rising housing costs but equally as important is the cost to move into a home. “It’s more than just rising prices on homes, which is true they are going up. But we are also seeing buyers bidding 20, 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars over listing price.”

“In some cases, the taxes cost more than the mortgage, which does not make any sense,” Ms. Guzman continued, referring to the struggles home buyers suffer in today’s market. “We must look forward to restructuring and being more innovative when considering affordability from all different facets. Build your incentives; we must subsidize at least part of [the cost of buying a home].”

Mainstreet has a dedicated page for Fair Housing resources. Click here to access the REALTORS® laws and advocacy page. 

Do you need resources to break down barriers for people of all backgrounds and elevate your business to all communities? Click here to access the DEI resource page. 

Did you miss out on the Affordable Housing Expo and Summit but want to join Mainstreet for future signature events? Click here for our Course and Event Calendar.