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Homebuilders’ Group to Lay Off 18 Workers

The National Association of Home Builders is planning to lay off 18 employees, dealing another blow to the industry’s reputation in Washington, D.C., Roll Call has learned.

The organization’s board of directors is slated to vote to approve the terminations next week during its annual conference in Orlando, at which point the decision will be considered official, sources close to the NAHB told Roll Call.

The group also plans to cut 14 unfilled positions, for a net loss of 32 jobs.

A spokesman for the group would not confirm the layoffs.

“NAHB will not be making any statements until after our Board of Directors meets next week in Orlando,” he said in an email to Roll Call.

With housing-related issues in the spotlight on Capitol Hill and an election on the horizon, the once-formidable power is about half the size it was at the height of the housing boom. After this round of layoffs, the federation will have 244 employees — down from more than 400 in 2007, sources familiar with the organization said.

Still, the NAHB’s lobbying arm seems to be operating at full steam.

The federation spent $2.6 million on lobbying in 2011 — $200,000 more than it did the year before, according to federal filings. It employs 11 full-time registered lobbyists, three of whom came on board this week, the association spokesman said.

Its political action committee, however, seems to be holding back. Federal Election Commission reports made public Tuesday show that the organization is sitting on the majority of the campaign cash it raised during 2011.

BUILD-PAC raised more than $1 million last year, but it only contributed $395,000 to Congressional candidates, less than half of what it contributed to candidates by this point in the last election cycle. In 2010 the group contributed nearly $2 million to lawmakers.

Since August, the association has lost four key players, including three stars from its lobbying team. Joe Stanton, NAHB’s top lobbyist; Elizabeth Odina, who lobbied on energy issues for the group; and legal counsel Holli Feichko resigned this fall, Roll Call reported in September. Jenna Hamilton, the lead lobbyist on labor issues, left in August and Bill Kilmer, the executive vice president for advocacy and the organization’s second in command, moved to the Mortgage Bankers Association in the summer of 2010.

At the same time, the organization’s membership, now at 140,000, also dropped significantly with some of its largest members splintering off to form a separate association, the Leading Builders of America, two years ago.

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