NLIHC President Sheila Crowley Testifies on Principles, Proposals for Housing Finance Reform

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Taylor Materio 202-662-1530 x227; taylor@nlihc.org

NLIHC President Sheila Crowley Testifies on Principles, Proposals for Housing Finance Reform

WASHINGTON - As Congress considers reform of the housing
finance system, including
overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, NLIHC President Sheila Crowley
testified before Congress on April 14 on principles that should guide
such
reform. She also called on Congress to fund the National Housing Trust
Fund as
a component of any reform, as a way to address the longstanding shortage
of
rental housing for the lowest income people.

The hearing, titled
"Housing Finance - What Should the New System Be Able to Do?: Part
II-Government and Stakeholder Perspectives," was held in the House
Financial Services Committee by Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA).

"We are interested in the topic of today's
hearing
primarily because the housing finance system in the United States to
date has failed
miserably in assuring enough housing for all Americans and we want any
reform
that Congress undertakes to address that serious shortcoming," Ms.
Crowley said in her testimony.

Ms. Crowley identified several principles that
should be used to shape
reform proposals, including:

  • Federal subsidies to the housing
    sector should be directed to meeting the needs of those with the most
    serious
    housing problems first.
  • All segments of the housing
    finance sector have a duty to contribute to solving the most serious
    housing
    problems.
  • Federal policy should not favor
    one form of tenure over another; rather, federal policy should
    incentivize
    balance in the housing market and the full range of housing choices in
    every
    community.

In support of these reform principles, Ms.
Crowley reiterated the need
for Congress to fund the National Housing Trust Fund, which would
provide
communities with funds to build, rehabilitate and preserve rental
housing for
people with the lowest incomes. Legislation creating the National
Housing Trust
Fund passed in 2008, but Congress has not yet capitalized the fund.

Suggestions for funding sources that could be
dedicated to the National
Housing Trust Fund as part of housing finance system reform include:

  • Fees
    on
    federal support to financial institutions.
    The federal
    government
    provides private financial institutions with low-cost funds through a
    variety
    of sources. A 5 basis point annual fee on outstanding low-cost funding
    balances
    could raise several billion dollars a year for the NHTF.
  • Securitization
    fees.
    Congress should levy a fee on the securitization of
    mortgages
    by any capital markets participant.
  • Capital
    gains
    tax surcharge.
    Homeowners can take a tax deduction for
    capital
    gains on the sale of their homes. A 10% surcharge on the percentage of
    the
    capital gains that a seller realizes at the time of sale would generate
    several
    billion dollars a year.

Sheila Crowley's complete testimony is
available at: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/Testimony-of-Sheila-Crowley4-14-2010.pdf

More information on the hearing is available
at: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/hearing/financialsvcs_dem/fchrn_04142010.shtml 

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The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to ending America’s affordable housing crisis. Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy and educates the public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.

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