In advance of testimony by Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt before the House Financial Services Committee, Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) commended the Agency’s efforts to ensure that America’s housing market remains affordable and works for everyone.
At a hearing to receive an “An Update from the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency,” which is charged with overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Waters acknowledged the Government-Sponsored Enterprises’ (GSEs) return to profitability and recognized steps by Director Watt to fulfill its statutory obligation to preserve a liquid, competitive national housing market.
The Ranking Member also noted the agency’s work to expand safe, decent, and affordable housing options, even as Republicans continue to slash critical public housing and voucher programs, by renewing its payments into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Funds, two critical tools that will give millions of Americans the chance to find affordable housing.
The full text of the statement follows and can be found online here.
As prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me welcome back my friend and our former colleague, Mel Watt.
Director Watt, in the year since you became head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, you have taken important steps to ensure that our housing market remains affordable and works for everyone.
With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now having paid the government $225 billion dollars – which is $38 billion dollars more than the Treasury invested during the crisis – I think it’s fair to say that our actions to prevent a total collapse of our housing market has been a resounding success. If we closed the GSEs without putting in place a viable alternative – as my Republican colleagues would do – we would likely re-enter a recession. In fact, I think it’s in our economy’s best interest that the PATH Act lost what little momentum it may’ve ever had.
And Director Watt, your actions demonstrate that you are fulfilling your statutory mandate to preserve a liquid, competitive and national housing market.
Similarly, the FHFA has finally abided by another statutory mandate – to fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This one action will help improve – especially in my district – the availability and affordability of rental housing. There are 7.1 million American households for whom safe and decent housing is neither affordable nor available – a situation made worse due to Republican attacks on public housing and voucher programs. But by complying with your statutory obligation to allocate a tiny percentage of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s profits to these Funds, we have the chance to improve the lives of millions of American children, families, people with disabilities and the elderly.
I also applaud your efforts to expand the availability of homeownership for all Americans, including Americans who are qualified borrowers but are not fortunate to come from wealthy families. When FHFA lowered the downpayment requirements, it appropriately balanced safeguards to protect the taxpayer with expanding credit for eligible borrowers. Moving forward, I encourage the FHFA to think outside the box when it comes to credit scores to ensure that all credit-worthy borrowers have a chance at the American dream.
So I thank you Director Watt, and welcome your testimony today.”