The United States Hispanic Contractors Association, the fastest growing Hispanic business association in the U.S. with more than 130,000 members in 15 states, has joined the American Consumers for Affordable Homes (ACAH), an ad hoc alliance of 14 other major associations and companies working to assure that the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) ends in three months.
"Market volatility for lumber prices is an economic challenge for Hispanic contractors throughout the United States along with the millions of Americans they are trying to help reach the American dream of home ownership," said Frank Fuentes, chairman of the Hispanic Contractors Association.
"Our organization's goal is to help Hispanics succeed in the construction industry, and the SLA is one of the largest roadblocks we are now facing," Fuentes continued. "It simply doesn't make sense for our members, American families and the nation's economy. When families do not have appropriate housing, we all suffer-worker morale, the structure of our families and our communities. We need to end this bad trade policy at the earliest possible time. "
By restricting the amount of lumber from Canada, the SLA results in the addition of about $50 to the price of 1,000 board feet of framing lumber and raises the cost of an average new home by $1,000, according to the National Association of Home Builders. As a result, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 300,000 families are priced out of the housing market each year.
Even when lumber prices are down, the volatility and unpredictability of lumber prices and supply for framing homes, caused by this failed policy, directly harms contractors, who cannot control their costs, Fuentes noted.
The SLA, entered into in 1996, is scheduled to end April 1, 2001, and ACAH is urging that it be allowed to expire without modification or extension.
Other members of the ACAH include: Abitibi-Consolidated Sales Corporation; CHEP USA; Citizens for a Sound Economy; Coalition for Indian Housing and Development; Consumers for World Trade; Free Trade Lumber Council; Home Depot; International Mass Retail Association; Leggett & Platt, Inc.; Manufactured Housing Institute; National Association of Home Builders; National Black Chamber of Commerce; National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association; and the National Retail Federation.