Membership Messages

Fahe Advocacy Update: Senate votes to approve new director of FHFA; House Financial Services Committee holds hearing on housing crisis in rural America

The Latest

  • Appropriations subcommittees reviewing appropriations materials, Fahe Members reached out to Congress
  • Senate votes to approve new director of FHFA in favor of privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Longer Term

  • Survey and initiative brings new attention to the intersections of health, wellbeing and affordable housing
  • House Financial Services Committee holds hearing on housing crisis in rural America
  • New York Times article discusses the results achieved by the Canadian approach to reducing poverty

The Latest

In general, appropriations requests have been submitted and subcommittees are at the stage of reviewing requests for funding. Members reached out to Congressional members and helped make our voice heard to representatives in Washington – good job and we’ll keep the conversation going.  

The Senate voted on Thursday, April 4th, to approve Mark Calabria as the new head of the FHFA, the federal organization tasked with oversight of the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Dr. Calabria brings decades of experience in the housing industry, and believes the GSEs should be privatized as part of reform. Under this approach, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac would exit government conservatorship and become private entities, with responsibility for affordable housing objectives shifting to HUD. Fahe echoes the sentiment of other affordable housing advocates that any housing finance reform must strengthen public commitments to low- and moderate-income housing, while maintaining the important role GSEs play in providing credit to rural and small town housing markets.

Longer Term

A survey of 1,000 households has shown that renters—especially those with significant cost burden—delay key medical visits and treatment. Over half of the respondents in the survey conducted by Enterprise Community Development had delayed medical treatment because they could not afford the cost. Enterprise’s Health Begins with Home Initiative is investing $250 million to position health and wellbeing as central issues in the development and preservation of affordable housing. As practitioners, we know this work is important in all parts of the country and hope to see investments like this in our larger cities and also in our small towns.

On April 2nd, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on “The Affordable Housing Crisis in Rural America: Assessing the Federal response”. Housing Assistance Council CEO David Lipsetz spoke on the importance of expanding pathways to homeownership and preserving affordable rental housing in rural America. As housing stock ages in rural communities, it is vitally important that existing units be maintained and new construction began in order to prevent further declines in affordable housing options for rural people.

A New York Times article recently compared the U.S. and Canadian approaches to anti-poverty programs. Between the years of 2015 and 2017, Canada reduced their poverty rate by 1/5th. This rapid decline was precipitated by coordinated local and national “collective impact structures” that brought together existing local programs and a federal basic income for the young and old to change the narrative of poverty across the country. Paul Born, head of the Tamarack Institute which pioneered this approach in Canada, says that this narrative shift was “like cleaning the water”: where “communities realize they can do more for the poor” and move beyond the mindset where “transformational change rarely gets done”.

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