Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2017 housing finance reform…already?

What we're building 
by Ethan Handelman, National Housing Conference

At NHC, we are already preparing for what could happen on housing finance reform next year, even though it is still summertime. The big question of what to do with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other parts of our housing finance system still needs a definitive, legislative answer. NHC wants to make sure that affordable housing is a part of that answer in a constructive way.

Yes, I know there’s an election still to happen between now and 2017. It will be incredibly distracting for several more months, and then when it is over, the new Congress and the new administration will face the same questions that have stood open since 2008. Housing choices are required by life events, but they are enabled by financial options. How do we ensure that new parents can get a mortgage for the house with enough space for the baby? Can the recent college grad afford an apartment near her first job? Are there affordable housing options for the farm workers, restaurant workers, retail workers and the many other lower income people who keep our economy running? 

The technical details of housing finance reform help to provide the answers to those questions. At NHC, we are trying to connect the dots between the technical details and core messages of affordable housing. For instance, Shekar Narasimhan and I wrote an article on why multifamily finance needs its own solution in housing finance reform, potentially different from single-family. Yesterday, I spoke on a webinar for Habitat for Humanity affiliates who want to understand more about housing finance reform and the role they can play in making it happen. Our policy team is engaging with the Federal Housing Finance Agency on a range of regulatory issues. And at our Solutions for Affordable Housing conference on December 14, policy experts in housing finance will discuss the outlook for reform in 2017.

Post-election, we will have another opportunity to move beyond the temporary patchwork that has held the housing finance system together since 2008. Let’s make sure affordable housing is ready to play our part.



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