Congresswoman Waters Discusses Need for Housing Finance Reform at Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Forum
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, delivered a keynote address on the need for robust housing finance reform at a public forum hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) Housing Commission. The forum covered future demographic trends impacting housing markets, efforts to link housing and healthcare to serve the most vulnerable populations, access to credit for perspective homebuyers, and efforts to incentivize the adoption of energy efficiency measures in housing. Moderated by Ron Brownstein of National Journal and featuring former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, the forum was held at the University of Southern California (USC) on Monday, Nov. 4.
"The timing of this forum could not be much better. It has been five years since the bank bailouts and the federal takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," said Congresswoman Maxine Waters. "After several brutal years in the wake of the financial crisis, our housing recovery is continuing to take shape. Home prices dropped precipitously from 2007 through 2011, but are now stabilizing or even rising in many markets, including Los Angeles."
A strong supporter of the Dodd-Frank Act, designed to avoid the subprime meltdown that caused home foreclosures that destroyed many of our communities, Congresswoman Waters told the audience she was encouraged to see that reforms advanced under the law are slowly being implemented. She also discussed her forthcoming proposal to unwind and replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, laying out a set of core principles released by Financial Services Committee Democrats, under her leadership, which will guide their consideration of all reform proposals. Among those principles, housing finance reform must maintain an affordable 30-year fixed rate mortgage; protect taxpayers by making any guarantee fully paid for; and support affordable rental housing and the multi-family market.
Waters announced her own proposal will encompass these principles. It will also end Fannie and Freddie, replacing them with a new, cooperative-owned securities issuer that has a lower risk than shareholder-owned firms. Her proposal will ensure access to sustainable homeownership for creditworthy borrowers of all backgrounds and in all regions of the country, while also promoting affordable and available rental options for a changing America.
"We are working on this proposal not only to highlight these key, priority issues, but also because the Republican proposal we have in the House of Representatives is simply untenable," stated Congresswoman Waters. "The Republican's PATH Act – or as I call it, the ‘PATH to Nowhere' Act – would be bad for our country and our economy."
Released by Financial Services Committee Republicans, the PATH Act would badly hurt America's middle-class, ending the affordable 30-year fixed rate mortgage – the lifeblood of our housing market. It severely limits the availability of FHA-backed mortgages and rases the costs of those mortgages significantly. And the PATH Act would be detrimental to renters, eliminating Fannie and Freddie's role in multi-family housing.
"As this debate moves forward, I remain committed to working with President Obama and those Members of Congress committed to a reasonable approach to housing finance reform. We must ensure that reform of this complicated market is accomplished in a manner that provides opportunity to Americans of all income levels, protects taxpayers and consumers, and brings equity and accountability to all actors within our financial system," she added.