National Housing Conference

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Established 1931
President and CEO Maureen Friar
Chair Dan Nissenbaum
Headquarters Washington, D.C., USA
Research Affiliate Center for Housing Policy

The National Housing Conference (NHC) is an American non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. established in 1931. Its stated goal is "ensuring safe, decent and affordable housing for all Americans."

The Center for Housing Policy, NHC’s research affiliate, specializes in developing solutions through research. In partnership with NHC and its members, the Center works to broaden understanding of the nation’s housing challenges and to examine the impact of policies and programs developed to address these needs.


In 1931, Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch, a reformer and social worker, formed the National Public Housing Conference, which became the National Housing Conference (NHC), the first[citation needed] non-partisan, independent coalition of national housing leaders from both the public and private sector. Simkhovitch believed that imaginative programs could replace slums with decent housing and revive the creative spirit of a community.[1] In 1934, NHC pushed hard to get the Federal Home Loan Bank Board set up, and helped engineer the passage of the National Housing Act of 1934, which created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

NHC’s efforts in the 1950s and 1960s helped secure the expansion of the Housing Act of 1949 in 1954, which included authorization of slum clearance and permitted rent adjustments based on income. Part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” included the creation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1965, a cabinet level department with decent housing as its only goal.[2]

In 1973, Clara Fox, executive director of the Settlement Housing Fund, organized developers, lenders, builders, property managers, residents and others interested in affordable housing into a powerful coalition to fight President Richard Nixon’s actions to limit federal housing programs. The following year, this coalition, the New York Housing Conference (NYHC), affiliated with NHC. Fox served as co-chair of NYHC until her death in December 2007.[1]

After Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter authorized record high budgets for HUD in the 1970s, the election of Ronald Reagan in 1982 led to drastic housing budget cuts. Despite the reluctance of the Reagan Administration, NHC successfully lobbied for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit legislation, which gave private investors a 10-year tax incentive to invest in affordable housing by providing equity for multi-family housing with a designated number of units for low-income tenants. This remains the most important incentive for financing low-income housing.[3]

In 1992, President Bill Clinton’s new HUD administration approached NHC for help in determining how best to preserve the 940,000 Section 8 program units facing defaults. NHC convened a special task force numbering over 110 industry leaders from all different sectors of the housing industry. The coalition drafted a proposal that resulted in “Mark to Market” legislation, helping to preserve hundreds of thousands of rental units. Also in 1992, NHC created the Center for Housing Policy, an affiliated housing research organization dedicated to conducting practical and relevant research for housing practitioners and policymakers. Jeffrey Lubell serves as executive director of the Center.

In the late 1990s, a group of California NHC members decided that the time was long overdue for California to become a more significant player in the affordable housing policy arena. In 1997 they formed an affiliate organization of NHC, the California Housing Consortium (CHC). Since 1997, CHC has become a major affordable housing player in California. Its efforts have resulted in major state housing bonds focused on ensuring affordable housing.

In December 2000, Congress established the bipartisan Millennial Housing Commission. The Commission was charged with examining, analyzing and exploring: 1) The importance of affordable housing; 2) Possible methods for increasing the role of the private sector in providing affordable housing; and 3) Whether exiting HUD programs work. NHC's then-policy director, Conrad Egan, was the executive director of the Commission. Egan served as president and CEO of NHC until February 2010, when he was succeeded by Maureen Friar.


Maureen Friar serves as president and CEO of NHC, and Dan Nissenbaum, chief operating officer of the Urban Investment Group, a division of Goldman Sachs Bank USA, is chair of NHC. Jeffrey Lubell is executive director of the Center. John McIlwain, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute and ULI/J. Ronald Terwilliger chair for housing, is chairman of the Center.

Regional Housing Forums[edit]

NHC holds several regional housing forums each year, in partnership with a network of other national, state and local housing and related organizations. The forums discuss national issues, including affordability, sustainability, and housing's connections to transportation, economic development, education, public health, and more.[4] It also regularly brings together local and national leaders to discuss inclusionary housing, also known as inclusionary zoning, at a National Inclusionary Housing Conference. Inclusionary housing helps ensure the construction of low- to moderate-income housing by requiring developers to set aside affordable units in an otherwise market-driven development.[5]

Regional affiliates[edit]

The New York Housing Conference (NYHC) was established in 1973 to develop and advocate for affordable housing policy and programs at the federal, state and city level. NYHC has worked with local government agencies to create low-, moderate- and middle-income housing programs locally and has helped gained enactment of major housing legislation.

Founded in 1997, the California Housing Consortium/CHC Institute is a coalition of developers, lenders, state and local government officials, homebuilders, investors, property managers, residents and housing professionals who share the common goal of expanding and improving affordable housing opportunities for all Californians.


External links[edit]