LAS VEGAS — The National Association of Home Builders is trying to line up its cash-strapped members with hard-to-find sources of financing.

In an effort to bring some capital back to the suffering housing business, the trade group brought together about two dozen financial firms and as many as 200 builders in a private back room of its annual convention here last week.

"We are bringing the mountain to Muhammad," Michelle Hamecs, a staff member at the builder group, said of its Partnership Pavilion program. "We're doing what we can to raise awareness and try to get some money flowing again."

Earl Armiger, the president of Orchard Development Corp., an apartment builder in Ellicott City, Md., said the dearth of funding for acquisition, development and construction is his industry's No. 1 problem. "Housing can't lead the country out of the recession if it doesn't have capital," he said. "The problem is so large, so global, that progress has to be taken in small steps."

It's too early to assess the initiative's success, said Michael Sivage of Sivage Homes in Albuquerque, who became chairman of the trade group's housing finance committee at the convention last week.

"The real proof will be if some of us actually get some capital," he said. "I expect deals to get done, but how many remains to be seen."

Sivage called the trade group's matchmaking "a very valuable service. We can't make them lend us any money, but at least we are talking."

He was one of the builders who took advantage of the pavilion, coming away with an appointment in February to have a lender come to San Antonio to look at three small projects he is trying to get off the ground.

"It's all exploratory," Sivage said. "But even if nothing gets done, I walked away understanding what their expectations were, so I now know what will work and what won't. Better yet, they saw my deal."

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