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Work on housing finance reform must continue

National Housing Conference statement on Senate Banking Committee approval of S. 1217

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Thursday, May 15, 2014                

Contact:
Amy Clark
202.466.2121 (ext. 226) 
aclark@nhc.org

 

The National Housing Conference (NHC) applauds the action of the Senate Banking Committee, which approved the Johnson-Crapo housing finance reform legislation S. 1217 today for consideration by the full Senate. We thank Senators Corker (R-Tenn.) and Warner (D-Va.) for starting this effort, Chairman Johnson (D-S.D.) and Ranking Member Crapo (R-Idaho) for carrying it forward, and the many other legislators from both parties who worked on and supported it. The bill addresses squarely the most pressing challenge in housing today: replacing the unsustainable patchwork left over from the financial crisis with a housing finance system that protects taxpayers, ensures widespread availability of mortgages, and creates housing opportunity for all.

“We can’t rely on the status quo to serve today’s housing needs, much less tomorrow’s,” said Chris Estes, President and CEO of NHC. “Congress needs to fix our housing finance system, and that takes bipartisan action. Today’s vote shows that is possible.”

The remnants of the housing finance system left in the wake of the financial crisis desperately need attention. Right now, it is still far too difficult for qualified borrowers to get a mortgage. The uncertainty about the future of mortgage finance and the federal role make it harder for lenders to create the housing opportunities so many American households need. Rising rental costs only compound the difficulties, particularly for low-income households.

Furthermore, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have no capital cushion, but along with FHA are still backing over 90% of new mortgages, leaving them vulnerable to economic shocks. If another economic downturn hits, we could find ourselves curtailing mortgage lending just when it is needed most by struggling households and weakened local housing markets.

Our country needs a durable housing finance system that creates access to housing opportunities affordable to all in America. The system must serve homeowners and renters, of all backgrounds and in all communities. NHC and many others know that takes vigorous participation by private capital, effective regulation, a properly structured federal guarantee, and targeted mechanisms to fill in the gaps where market forces fail. NHC will continue to work toward that goal, and we call on all members of Congress to do the same.

 

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About the National Housing Conference

The National Housing Conference (NHC) represents a diverse membership of housing stakeholders including tenant advocates, mortgage bankers, nonprofit and for-profit home builders, property managers, policy practitioners, Realtors®, equity investors, and more, all of whom share a commitment to safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America. We are the nation’s oldest housing advocacy organization, dedicated to the affordable housing mission since our founding in 1931. We are a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit that brings together our broad-based membership to advocate on housing issues.