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Home Local Maryland Government Announcement Originally published January 24, 2014

Cardin, Mikulski Urge Greater Federal Focus on Affordable Rental Housing



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS:

Sue Walitsky (Cardin) 202-224-4524

Rachel MacKnight (Mikulski) 202-228-1122

January 24, 2014

 

 

Cardin, Mikulski Urge Greater Federal Focus on Affordable Rental

 

Housing

 

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to strengthen our economy and increase the supply of affordable rental housing across the country, Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) joined Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and 30 other Senators in sending a letter to Mel Watt, the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), urging him to end the suspension of contributions to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) within all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

 In December of 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed Mel Watt to lead FHFA as the country’s top housing regulator, overseeing more than $5 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage market.

In 2008, overwhelming majorities in Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act to help stabilize America’s housing market. Created by that legislation were the National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund that sought to address the shortage of affordable rental housing. However, neither the National Housing Trust Fund nor the Capital Magnet Fund have been consistently funded as intended.  As the FHFA’s newly confirmed Director, Mr. Watt has the power to lift the suspension and the Senators noted:

“The affordable rental housing crisis that prompted Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to create the NHTF and CMF has only gotten worse in the last five years.  Since passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act in 2008, the number of homes that are affordable to renters with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income decreased by more than 1 million units,” the Senators wrote. “The time is long overdue to lift the current suspension of contributions to the NHTF and CMF, and we ask your full and fair consideration of this request.”

Full text of the letter follows. Additional signatories include: Senators Barbara Boxer, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Richard Blumenthal, Carl Levin, Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy, Ed Markey, Jeanne Shaheen, Debbie Stabenow, Tim Kaine, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Al Franken, Ron Wyden, Mazie Hirono, Dick Durbin, Tammy Baldwin, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Harkin, Sherrod Brown, Sheldon Whitehouse, Dianne Feinstein, Bob Menendez, Chuck Schumer, Brian Schatz, Patty Murray, Patrick Leahy, Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu.

 

January 23, 2014

The Honorable Mel Watt

Director

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)

400 7th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20024

 

Dear Director Watt:

We write first to congratulate you on being confirmed and sworn in as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  We also share your concern about the need for more affordable rental housing in this country and ask that you end the suspension of contributions to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF), in a manner fully consistent with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

The affordable rental housing crisis that prompted Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to create the NHTF and CMF has only gotten worse in the last five years.  Since passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act in 2008, the number of homes that are affordable to renters with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income decreased by more than 1 million units.  According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, there is currently a national shortage of nearly 5 million units affordable and available to extremely low-income renters.  Funding the NHTF and CMF would help ameliorate this crisis.

We are all committed to reforming the mortgage finance system and do not believe Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be returned to their previous form.  However, directing much needed funding for affordable rental housing should not wait until Congress and the President are able to agree on a new system.  The time is long overdue to lift the current suspension of contributions to the NHTF and CMF, and we ask your full and fair consideration of our request.

We look forward to hearing from you in a timely fashion and working with you as FHFA Director on this and other important matters.

Sincerely,