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Mich. Builders Rally In Support Of Home Ownership

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DETROIT (AP) - Several home builder groups have planned rallies protesting proposed federal tax, legislative and regulatory policies they claim will make it even harder for people to buy homes.

The policies being considered by Congress would scale back or eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, making it difficult for many Americans to afford home mortgages and loans for small businesses, officials from the groups said during a rally Friday at a housing and retail development on Detroit’s west side.

The Gardenview Estates rally was one of seven planned across the country this year.

“A strong housing market is not only important to help more Michigan citizens realize the dream of homeownership, but it is essential to revitalizing Michigan’s economy,” said Robert Filka, chief executive of the Michigan Association of Home Builders.

“When builders are constructing homes – that means jobs and investment, which provide a better quality of life and support for Michigan schools and municipalities,” Filka added.

A budget plan released earlier this year by House Republicans called for eliminating a host of deductions and credits in order to produce a far simpler income tax code with just two rates for individuals: 10 percent and 25 percent. It was not clear if the popular mortgage interest deduction would be spared.

Tax experts have said that the only way to get the top rate down to 25 percent – from the 35 percent in March – would be to eliminate popular but expensive tax breaks like the deductions for mortgage interest.

Gardenview Estates sits on the former sight of the expansive Herman Gardens public housing project. The land sat empty for years after Herman Gardens was razed.

More than 320 town house rental units have been built, with another 320 duplex units and about 200 single-family homes planned. Two four-story senior housing towers will have 140 rental units each.

“Home building is coming back slowly” from the national mortgage crisis, said Barry Rutenberg, 2012 chair for the National Association of Home Builders. “Things are looking gently more optimistic.”

If Gardenview Estates is successful and more homeowners move in, that could help the surrounding area, which has its share of vacant houses and empty storefronts. Crime also has been a concern.

Home ownership “is clearly a correlation and connection with having a stable neighborhood … when you have that presence and people who care about their community and their families,” said Michael Stoskopf, chief executive of the Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan.

© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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