June 7, 2016

In Case You Missed It: A Look at Recent National Housing Policy News

Representatives Urge Regulators to Reassess Fannie and Freddie Capital Standards 

Thirty-two congressional Democrats sent a letter earlier today to Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew expressing concerns about a current policy that requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce the amount of capital they hold. The letter, which was drafted by House Financial Services Committee member Michael Capuano (D-MA), asks the regulators to reassess this policy. As a condition for receiving assistance from the federal government, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are currently required to send Treasury any business income they generate at the end of each quarter. In addition, while the GSEs are allowed to keep enough assets to maintain a "capital buffer" to protect against losses temporarily, that buffer must be reduced each year until it is zero by January 1, 2018.

NCSHA President Tom Gleason Makes the Case for Housing Bonds at House and Senate Briefings 

MassHousing Executive Director Emeritus and NCSHA President Tom Gleason on June 2 participated as NCSHA's representative in two panel briefing sessions on Capitol Hill—one for House staff and the other for Senate staff—on the importance of tax-exempt municipal bonds. The Municipal Bonds for America (MBFA) coalition, in which NCSHA participates, sponsored the briefings to educate congressional staff about how bonds work, the many uses of bonds, and why they are critical to state and local governments. Gleason explained how MassHousing uses bonds to make homeownership possible for first-time home buyers and finance affordable rental housing for low-income households. "If the tax exemption goes away, you'll see a classic economic response. Investors are currently willing to accept a lower return because of the tax exemption. If it goes away, the market would drift higher and the consumer would have to pay more. They would pay more for a mortgage or higher rent on an apartment. It's as simple as that," said Gleason.

HUD Housing Counseling Advisory Committee Includes HFA Representative HUD announced earlier this week the members of its inaugural Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee (HCFAC). The Committee, which was authorized under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, will advise HUD about how it can best utilize its resources to provide more borrowers with HUD-approved counseling services. The appointees include Terri Redmond, Manager of Counseling and Education for Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). Since Redmond joined PHFA 12 years ago, its counseling program has grown exponentially. Its counseling partner network has increased by 100 percent, and currently assists over 25,000 clients annually, up from 640 in 2003.

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