February 18, 2019

President’s Letter: Why Advocacy

The HBA of Greater Austin is the voice of housing through our advocacy efforts. As part of our robust advocacy plan, we encourage our members to attend advocacy forums to learn about changes in governmental regulations in our region, engage with their elected officials at council meetings, attend Rally Day at the state Capitol, and donate to HomePAC in support of pro-housing candidate electoral efforts. But, for those new to the HBA, they may wonder why our advocacy efforts are so important and why they should get involved.

At the HBA of Greater Austin, we take a multi-faceted approach to our advocacy efforts.  We engage at the City and County level through our Government Relations Committee’s monthly Advocacy Forums and quarterly council meetings. At these meetings, we have a dialogue about how the regulatory changes are impacting the cost of housing.  We work toward improving processes and educating staff on the impacts of these challenges. We are also working with our elected officials throughout the region. There we strive to be a resource to them so that they can better understand the impact of new policies, codes and fees and what that translates to in the form new home buyers being priced out of the market. We can often help them implement the plan that they envision at a substantially lower cost  with less adverse impact to housing than what was originally proposed.

An important component of the elected official engagement is through the HomePAC. The HomePAC is a non-partisan political action committee set up to support the election of pro-housing candidates. HomePAC Trustees survey and interview candidates and elected officials to find out their positions on various housing related issues likely to come before their councils. The Trustees then have the opportunity to make endorsements, campaign contributions or initiate direct campaign expenditures (mailings, canvassing, TV/radio/internet advertising, etc.). It is essential that we have support from HBA members to ensure that pro-housing candidates win elections across our region as we continue to experience increased growth and a need for housing. The more elected officials that are attuned to our issues, the more effective our Government Affairs efforts will be.

The thread of advocacy runs through numerous councils and committees at the HBA.  By becoming active in the Government Relations Committee, or the Infill Builders, Volume Builders, and Developers Councils, you can really put your membership to work for you.  

The HBA of Greater Austin encompasses over 725 member companies within the Austin MSA (the six counties surrounding Austin). Our Government Relations staff works in over 30 cities in the region, as well as at the county and state legislature levels. Sometimes the issues we work on are member driven (someone has encountered an inefficiency or obstacle) and sometimes we are responding to a city initiative (impact fee, code change, regulation). Without critical  member involvement we would not be able to tackle the numerous issues within this large region.

Finally, there is opportunity to participation beyond our HBA and region. The Texas Association of Builders (TAB) deals with government affairs issues at the state level and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) work on the national and international level.  Both the state and national associations (or TAB and NAHB) have similar committee structures and political action committees, giving members a variety of options to provide input on the issues facing their business.

So, where do you fit in?

  •         Everyone can contribute to HomePAC. Whether it is $25 or $5000, every contribution is used to create a better housing environment.
  •         Attend a monthly Advocacy Forum or HBA Goes Local to find out what issues are happening now that impact our industry.
  •         Join a council (Volume Builders, Developers, Infill) and share best practices and what is happening in your section of the industry.
  •         Attend Elected Officials Night and get to know your elected officials in a casual environment.
  •         Sign up for TAB’s Rally Day March 20th to meet with your Legislators and weigh in on legislation before it becomes law.
  •         Talk with Director of Government Relations & Policy David Glenn or Director of Public Affairs & HomePAC Holly M. Davis about how you can get more involved.

There is always a place for you in the HBA’s Advocacy efforts, in fact, we can’t do it without you.  Be the voice of housing.

Becky Collins
2019 President, HBA of Greater Austin