This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on January 24, 2002 Page: A5
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

Sarah Schweitzer, Globe Staff

WASHINGTON - Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined mayors from across the country here yesterday to call for a greater emphasis on housing construction, long a Menino priority that in recent months has been overshadowed by post-Sept. 11 security concerns.

"As we look to build a stronger economy, there is no better investment for our country to make. Housing not only puts a roof over people's heads, it puts people back to work," Menino said at the winter session of the US Conference of Mayors, of which he is vice president. According to city data, Boston has granted permits for 4,668 new housing units since July 2000, including 1,803 units designated as affordable for the middle class.

Menino spoke during a day of meetings in which mayors clamored for more federal help in paying for enhanced security after Sept. 11.

But some mayors cautioned that cities ignore affordable-housing shortages at their peril.

"The same focus that is applied to security must be applied to housing," said Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco. "There is no mystery as to how you do it: You take it on a project-by-project basis."

Franklin Raines, the chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association, said increased attention to housing is not just good policy, but good economics for cities.

"The recession hit almost every industry hard, except for housing," he said. Home construction actually increased [last year] by 4 percent. Home sales were up nearly 6 percent."

Raines said the appetite for housing will only increase this decade, driven by a growing population, particularly immigrants newly able to purchase homes.

Sarah Schweitzer can be reached at schweitzer@globe.com.

© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company

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