Housing finance reform was front and center as the Senate Banking Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, kicked off what may be a series of hearings on the topic. NMHC and NAA issued a letter to the Committee supporting their initiative and citing the importance of including multifamily in its work on housing finance reform. As lawmakers continue to debate housing finance reform, NMHC will work with our allies in Congress to help craft proposals that protect and promote multifamily housing.
The Committee held a hearing entitled, “Principles of Housing Finance Reform” and featured David Stevens, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mortgage Bankers Association; Edward DeMarco, President, Housing Policy Council of the Financial Services Roundtable; and Michael Calhoun, President, Center for Responsible Lending. Much of the discussion centered around single family, but the witnesses were asked about multifamily, highlighting the fact that there is a high level of awareness concerning the apartment industry among legislators.
Of note, there was a general consensus among the witnesses of the importance of the continued involvement of the government as a provider of a backstop guarantee. More importantly, there was bipartisan support of this concept as well, which may provide a better opportunity to move forward on legislation than in previous attempts. Chairman Crapo (R-ID), in his opening remarks, stressed that “The existing multifamily programs at Fannie and Freddie, which performed well through the crisis and already involve meaningful risk sharing with the private sector, should be preserved in some form as options in a future system.” Additionally, Senator Tillis (R-NC) noted that “The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is very important... It's really the cost of entry for someone to build a multifamily unit. And it relates directly to a number of the zoning and regulatory hurdles within the very areas that we need more affordable housing. We need a product that, in order to be able to have affordable rent, can come out at a right price.”
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