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Streamline Housing Policy

How best to streamline housing policy reform in 2017?

David Stevens, writing for The Hill, published an article this week calling for the creation of a housing policy director for the President after the 2016 election season. Stevens essentially argues that there are too many agencies involved with housing for the President to easily make necessary changes in policy. The creation of a “housing policy director” would allow the White House to concentrate necessary power in the hands of one individual to go out and make changes across agency lines and cut through bureaucratic red tape. What do you think about this suggestion? Does the government need another individual with concentrated power to make housing reforms? What advantages does the current system offer? How could it be improved?

Selected excerpts from the article below. To view this article in its original location, please click here.

August 30, 2016, 05:58 am

OPINION — By David Stevens

“Nearly every U.S. Presidential Administration in recent history has viewed housing as a fundamental plank of its core domestic agenda for one clear reason: Access to safe, affordable housing, whether owned or rented, is critical to the economic success of every American.  Over our history, homeownership has proven to be a key component of wealth building, and for those who can’t or don’t want to own, having a sufficient supply of rental housing can provide shelter, community and a piece of mind allowing greater chance at upward mobility.”

“After all, housing contributes approximately 18 percent of the gross domestic product, or in other words, one-fifth of the U.S. economy. It creates jobs, supports infrastructure and schools, and promotes positive social outcomes in health, education and family stability.”

 

“It was President Bill Clinton who said, “The objective for young people, with their futures before them and their dreams fresh in their minds… is to be able to own their home and to start a family … [this is], just as worthy today and, I would argue to you, more important today than it was 20 years ago.””

“This individual should report directly to the President and have clear principal level authority to call meetings, drive results, and measure progress.  He or she will play an indispensable role not just in identifying conflict points, but working with multiple agencies and compelling independent regulators to coordinate policy so as to encourage lenders to lend to qualified borrowers.”

“To untangle and refocus a national effort on housing America’s families will require a President to make a certain and forceful pivot that leaves little doubt about this issue.  That pivot cannot happen without a clearly articulated policy and someone empowered to use all the authority of the White House to make it happen.”

David Stevens is the president & CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

To view this article in its original location, please click here.

From the editor of The Sherwood Report:  “Yes, the next President needs a housing policy coordinator.  There are numerous federal agencies whose policies or actions have major impacts upon the nation’s housing, including the White House, OMB, HUD, Treasury, Fannie and Freddie, the IRS (tax-credit housing), the Federal Reserve Bank, Agriculture, bank regulators and consumer protection agencies.  In addition, Congress makes the rules for housing-related tax deductions, the majority of which go to the very well-to-do.  The HUD Secretary can’t oversee or coordinate all of these with his/her very limited powers.  In my opinion, the federal government should aggressively reshape its housing policies so that federal policies and assistance are targeted to helping low-income households, i.e. those under 90% of median income.  Economists say that we are overinvesting in housing because many people expect large growth in home values in the future, which is probably not going to happen.  No household should be encouraged or assisted to borrow more money than it can afford to become a homeowner.  If federal assistance were more targeted and focused, the overall cost of housing-related assistance to the federal government could be reduced, not expanded, while providing more real assistance to those who need it, low-income households.”   -Wayne Sherwood

 

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