WASHINGTON, D.C. – Leading civil and human rights organizations joined housing advocates today and sent a letter today to both the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee that stakeholders — now excluded from current congressional discussions on reforming the nation’s housing system — be expanded to include all voices and perspectives. Organizations seeking to advise the congressional committees are: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Coalition for Asian-Pacific American Community Development, Center for Responsible Lending, National Fair Housing Alliance, NAACP, UNIDOS USA, National Urban League, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
The top policy concern of the organizations is to preserve the current system’s access and affordability provisions, especially Affordable Housing Goals. They are also concerned that the nation’s homeownership is still declining and rental housing rates are skyrocketing. The advocates state that these difficult market dynamics affect borrowers of color and low-to-moderate income families. They maintain that everyone should be entitled to safe, decent, and affordable housing.
“Now is not the time to experiment with untested or unproven proposals that will harm our constituents and the market overall, warned the groups. “When homeownership opportunity grows, communities across the country benefit, and the American economy is stronger. For more than 25 years, access and affordability has helped millions of families to have their own American Dream. We will organize against any legislation that retreats.”
Reportedly, some proposals under discussion would unnecessarily increase costs for under-served borrowers because it would reduce the current system’s pooled risk credit. Further, if the House is considering policies that would restrict access to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, lawmakers should be reminded that this program saved the mortgage market from total collapse after private credit withdrew following the Housing Crash of 2008. It is also the entry point into the system for millions of first-time homebuyers.
Recent Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data shows that only 9 percent of conventional mortgage loans went to borrowers of color, and that FHA provided the greatest source of mortgage credit for borrowers of color over several years.