Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NHC welcomes bipartisan effort in the Senate to reform housing finance

by Ethan Handelman and Amy Clark, National Housing Conference

The mortgage finance reform bill introduced today by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) is a comprehensive, bipartisan effort at a time when Congress appears ready to reform the nation’s mortgage finance system.

Housing advocates are calling on Congress to take up this issue in earnest to craft a replacement for the temporary measures in place since the financial crisis. The National Housing Conference (NHC) urges all members of Congress to create a system that ensures reliable access to long-term fixed-rate mortgages, finance for multifamily housing nationwide, and support for affordable housing.

“Enacting mortgage finance reform could be this Congress’ single most far-reaching accomplishment in housing, as long as it provides families with access to the affordable mortgages and rental housing they so desperately need. When people talk about stimulating economic growth, this is a key opportunity to do so,” said NHC President and CEO Chris Estes.

A bipartisan effort is essential to ensure Congress creates a system that meets families’ need for stable, affordable housing options, protects taxpayers from excessive risk, and gives investors and lenders clear rules and protections. The action today by Senators Warner, Corker, Johanns, Tester, Heitkamp, Heller, Moran and Hagan shows how housing need overcomes partisan divisions and makes practical legislation possible. The ongoing work by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission, whose report was released in February, shows just how much common ground there is in many areas of housing.

“There’s a moment to seize here, and housing stakeholders should pitch in to help. Congress really could get mortgage finance reform done this session, which would create the liquidity, stability, and access to capital that the housing economy sorely needs,” observed Ethan Handelman, NHC’s Vice President for Policy and Advocacy.

NHC has joined with a coalition of housing stakeholders to offer comments on the Corker-Warner proposal, and its Housing Mortgage Working Group will continue to offer advice on core principles and more technical aspects of housing finance.

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