In the atrium of the National Housing Center in Washington, D.C., NAHB’s national headquarters, there is a life-size bust of Leon N. Weiner, the Delaware-based builder and developer who served as president of the association in 1967.
He’s the only NAHB leader to be so honored. But then again, there is only one Leon Weiner.
“He was known throughout the housing industry as ‘the conscience of the housing industry in America,’ and played a key role in developing housing policy and forging consensus at the national level,” then-NAHB President Gary Garczynski said in a Builder magazine obituary when Mr. Weiner died in 2002. “We will miss Leon’s outspoken, enthusiastic and effective advocacy for housing. Our industry has lost one of its brightest lights.”
As NAHB celebrates its 75th anniversary, long-time members remember leaders like Mr. Weiner, and younger members should get an introduction.
NAHB advocated for the creation of the Department of Housing, now HUD, in the mid-1960s during the Johnson Administration. Mr. Weiner led that effort, helping to convince legislators that housing was such an important player in the nation’s economy and in society that it deserved its own department.
It was just part of a career spent largely in the service of providing affordable housing for low-income families and the elderly, winning national awards and appointments and leaving a legacy that includes a scholarship program for disadvantaged students that survives to this day.
NAHB 2014 Chairman Kevin Kelly thinks about Mr. Weiner’s legacy often: He is chairman of Leon N. Weiner & Associates in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has worked since Mr. Weiner hired him in 1979.
“He was the smartest man I ever met, but you run into very smart people who love to let you know they are really smart. Not Leon,” Kelly remembered.
However, his personality did lean toward the bull-in-the-china-shop side, Kelly said. “When he was negotiating, he was hardnosed, and if you weren’t prepared, you’d have a problem, particularly when he was right and you were wrong. And when Leon was convinced he was right, 1,000 people could say he was wrong, but Leon would be undaunted, particularly on issues of principle. He would never sacrifice principle on the altar of profit. That was his moral compass.
“Leon believed that housing was a fundamental human right and the fact that there were tens of millions of Americans who were inadequately housed was a national disgrace,” Kelly said.
Kelly remembers one trip that he took with an NAACP delegation to talk to then-Senator Caleb Boggs of Delaware. They all had to wait outside. “While we are sitting in the waiting room, I keep hearing this voice. It was very emphatic and very loud and at times, almost lecturing, and they were talking about the Civil Rights Act. Leon was giving Caleb Boggs hell over his refusal to sign it,” he said.
In the 60s and 70s, Mr. Weiner conversed regularly with White House officials, including the president and his closest advisors, who valued Mr. Weiner’s insight into housing policy.
“Leon’s secretary would say, ‘Mr. Weiner, the White House is on the phone,’” Kelly remembered. It happened often enough that Kelly got curious, and asked her what was going on. “I said, ‘Is that, like, the White House?’ She just looked at me and said, ‘Do you know of any other White House?’”
In 1981, just before then-President Jimmy Carter left office, Kelly drove with his boss to Washington for a meeting with bankers about an apartment project in Maryland. But his boss had a different trip in mind.
“He got on the radio – this was before cell phones – and told the office to send the White House my Social Security number,” because Mr. Weiner wanted Kelly to meet the president. They parked at the White House. “We went through the diplomatic entrance and he said, ‘Come on, I’ll show you around.’ We marched all over hell and creation, walked through the East Room, and we met President and Mrs. Carter.”
Kelly was bowled over. Mr. Weiner, not so much. “One thing I’ve never forgotten is that Leon said, ‘These people are public servants, they are not public deities. Don’t ever treat them like a deity. You show them the respect the office is due and that they are due, but don’t you ever, ever act as if they are deities. Too many people do. If you feel strongly about your position, you don’t have to be deferential even if you are talking to the president of the United States.’ And he never was.”
For Mr. Weiner, it was all about the mission, Kelly said.
“His avocation became his vocation, and he began transitioning [from market-rate products] so by the time I got here, we were doing tons of affordable housing. We still do commercial, but 85% of our business remains affordable housing,” Kelly said.
May 15, 2017
In a further sign that the housing market continues to strengthen, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose two points in May to a level of 70 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is the second highest HMI reading since the downturn.
“This report shows that builders’ optimism in the housing market is solidifying, even as they deal with higher building material costs and shortages of lots and labor,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas.
“The HMI measure of future sales conditions reached its highest level since June 2005, a sign of growing consumer confidence in the new home market,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Especially as existing home inventory remains tight, we can expect increased demand for new construction moving forward.”
Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
Two of the three HMI components registered gains in May. The index charting sales expectations in the next six months jumped four points to 79 while the index gauging current sales conditions increased two points to 76. Meanwhile, the component measuring buyer traffic edged one point down to 51.
The three-month moving averages for HMI scores posted gains in three out of the four regions. The Northeast and South each registered three-point gains to 49 and 71, respectively, while the West rose one point to 78. The Midwest was unchanged at 68.
Editor’s Note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public. HMI tables can be found at nahb.org/hmi. More information on housing statistics is also available at housingeconomics.com.
Mary Field, VP Sales & Marketing, Noble’s Pond
13 Noble’s Pond Crossing
Dover, DE 19904
Noble’s Pond Adds Vivien Koronet, Design Consultant, to Growing Team
Dover, Delaware (May 8, 2017) – Vivien D. Koronet, ASID, has joined Noble’s Pond, the active lifestyle community in Dover, Delaware, as Design Consultant.
“Our buyers welcome the opportunity to work with Vivien – her talent for interior design, industry expertise and product knowledge are outstanding,” says Mary Field, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Noble’s Pond. “She is a great listener and has thoughtful suggestions, and she is here to help every new homeowner realize their dream home in Noble’s Pond.”
Vivien, who grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, is NCIDQ certified and has completed the NKBA Kitchen Designer Course. She earned her B.S. Degree in Interior Design with a minor in Studio Art from Meredith College, North Carolina.
Vivien has extensive interior design experience. In addition to working in new home construction and renovations, she has managed a design and decoration studio for an established interior design company. She previously owned her own interior design firm in Cary, North Carolina, where she and her family lived for more than 25 years before recently moving back to Delaware.
An active member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), Vivien’s most unusual assignment was to design luxury yacht interiors for a naval architecture firm. Her work has been honored with the ASID Merit Award for Residence over 3,500 sq. ft., and the ASID Merit Award for Hospitality.
Vivien and her husband, who live in Middletown, enjoy spending time with their two grown children and two young granddaughters, as well as hiking and traveling. In addition, Vivien derives great pleasure in various art related activities.
About Noble’s Pond:
Award-winning Noble’s Pond is Delaware’s premier 55+ community, located on almost 300 acres of historic farmland near Dover. The active lifestyle community offers beautiful new homes with a variety of distinct and flexible floorplans in an amenity-rich environment, including a well-appointed clubhouse, an outdoor pool, bocce courts, a putting green, tennis and pickle ball courts, a five-acre pond with pier and observation deck, and a community garden.
Visit Noble’s Pond Welcome Center, Clubhouse and Model Homes on Mondays-Saturdays from
10am-5pm and on Sundays from noon to 5pm. For more information call 1.888.222.0030 or visit http://www.noblespondhomes.com.
New Castle County Council ordinance approved this week an updated new system and fines for persistently vacant homes and commercial buildings. The County estimate there are at least 1,300 vacant homes within New Castle County. The new ordinance 17-033, sponsored by Councilman Dave Tackett, was approved unanimously.
Question was raised about builders’ model homes or spec homes since they are not resided in. The ordinance recognizes that models and spec units are part of the builder’s business and they are therefore exempt from the registration requirements given that they are within a minor or major subdivision project that is active.
In response to our question at the Land Use meeting as to how models are treated if the sales or building permits in the community slow down, County officials clarified they recognize that models and specs are a business and as long as they are actively used to sell the community, they are not considered vacant and thus do not need to be registered.
Anyone wanting a copy of the ordinance should email us at email@example.com