January 24, 2014

Kaine Joins 32 U.S. Senators to Urge FHFA to Revisit Affordable Rental Housing

WASHINGTON, D.C. In an effort to strengthen the economy and increase the supply of affordable rental housing across the country, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined a group of 32 U.S. Senators led by Jack Reed (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today in a letter sent 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. As the FHFA’s newly confirmed Director, Mr. Watt has the power to lift the suspension and the Senators noted: “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:

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,

Jack Reed
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
Barbara Mikulski
Ron Wyden
Mazie Hirono
Dick Durbin
Tammy Baldwin
Amy Klobuchar
Tom Harkin
Sherrod Brown
Ben Cardin
Sheldon Whitehouse
Dianne Feinstein
Bob Menendez
Chuck Schumer
Brian Schatz
Patty Murray
Patrick Leahy
Bob Casey
Mary Landrieu 

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