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Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington I By Quinn Mulholland
Majority Whip Clyburn addresses NHC members in annual meeting

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) gave remarks and took questions from members during NHC’s 89th annual meeting. "As housing advocates, you are on the frontlines of the biggest issues facing American households," Clyburn said. "Housing is the single biggest expense most families will have. It is integrally linked to the entire economy." The congressman went on to emphasize the imperative of addressing racial injustice in housing. "We know that there is a clear nexus between systemic racism and housing," Clyburn said. "Housing builds wealth across generations, but African Americans have been intentionally denied that housing-based wealth through methodical, long-running discrimination, and we see the fruits of that discrimination manifested in the racial wealth gap." Congressman Clyburn also discussed the efforts that he and others in Congress have been making to address the pandemic and provide relief to struggling families, including adding a provision for $75 billion in aid to homeowners and an extension of the federal foreclosure and eviction moratorium to the HEROES Act, which the House passed in May.
Economists discuss state of housing market

At NHC's annual Member Meeting on Thursday, the chief economists from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) gave a presentation on the state of the 2020 housing economy. MBA Chief Economist Michael Fratantoni discussed actions the Federal Reserve has taken to stabilize the housing market and the broader economy and their impact on mortgage rates, as well as recent trends in purchase activity. Fratantoni also discussed trends in mortgage forbearance, citing data from MBA's Weekly Forbearance and Call Volume Survey that showed that roughly half of servicers reported a week-over-week decline in forbearance. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun provided an overview of unemployment data across the country and showed that while housing market indicators like pending contracts collapsed in March and April, early data on May shows that the numbers may be recovering. NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz elaborated on longer-term challenges for the homebuilding industry, including labor shortages and lumber prices, and discussed potential changes in the housing market in the wake of the pandemic, including increased single-family construction in low density markets.
Representatives introduce resolution to reverse CRA rule

On June 11, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution to reverse the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) recent rule on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). “The Community Reinvestment Act is an essential law that was put in place to prevent redlining and to require banks to invest and lend responsibly in the communities where they are chartered,” Waters said in a statement. “It is completely unacceptable for the OCC to use the cover of a pandemic to rush out a rule that will be harmful to communities that are already suffering during this crisis.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also recently called for new acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks to scrap the OCC’s rule. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday that the Fed will move forward with its own separate proposal for modernizing CRA.
Lawmakers, advocates call for rent relief as eviction moratoriums expire

As eviction moratoriums put in place across the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to expire, advocates and lawmakers are amplifying calls for additional federal rental assistance. In a joint statement, Chairwoman Waters and Representative Denny Heck (D-Wash.) urged the Senate to pass the HEROES Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives last month and included a $100 billion emergency rental assistance fund. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), meanwhile, wrote a letter to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac calling for the organizations to do more to protect renters in properties with federally-backed mortgages. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s latest Rent Payment Tracker, 89% of households in professionally-managed apartment buildings paid rent as of June 13. However, advocates warn that figure could drop as unemployment benefits end and bills continue to pile up, and the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey shows that almost half of low-income renters lack confidence about their ability to pay the next month’s rent. Reports have also emerged that even in places where an eviction moratorium is still in place, from D.C. to North Carolina to New Orleans, landlords are still finding ways to evict tenants.
FHFA issues 2019 report to Congress

On Monday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its annual report to Congress for 2019. Among the topics addressed in the report was housing finance reform, with the agency calling on Congress to enact the legislative reforms necessary to allow for the release of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from conservatorship. In a cover letter to the report, FHFA Director Mark Calabria called for Congress to “remove unnecessary statutory exemptions and other advantages afforded the Enterprises and grant FHFA the authorities, similar to those of other financial regulators, to develop capital standards for the Enterprises and to issue new enterprise charters.” In the report, FHFA also called for Congress to give the agency the authority to examine mortgage servicers’ practices.

Also last week, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced the hiring of financial advisors to help them develop and implement plans for recapitalizing and exiting conservatorship. Fannie Mae hired Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC as its financial advisor, and Freddie Mac hired J.P. Morgan.
White House council delivers Opportunity Zones report to Trump

On Wednesday, the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, led by Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, delivered a report outlining program best practices to President Trump. The report, which is the third released by the council, includes best practices for Opportunity Zones stakeholders including local governments, state governments, foundations and nonprofits, and qualified opportunity funds. The Urban Institute published a separate report on the Opportunity Zones program on Wednesday making the case that the program isn’t living up to its equitable development goals and suggesting four ways to improve it, including better supporting investments in small businesses and broadening who can invest.
FHFA, FHA extend eviction and foreclosure moratorium

On Wednesday, FHFA and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced that both agencies will extend their respective moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions on federally-backed single-family properties through Aug. 31. FHFA’s moratorium applies to single-family properties with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and FHA’s applies to single-family properties with FHA-insured mortgages. Both moratoriums were scheduled to expire at the end of June. “Our foreclosure and eviction extension means that these families will not have to worry about losing their home as they work to recover from the financial impacts of COVID-19,” said HUD Secretary Carson in a statement.
Google to limit targeting on housing ads

In a recent announcement, Google said it will bar the practice of targeting advertisements, including for housing, to users based on postal code, gender, age, parental status, or marital status. The announcement comes after a HUD probe into whether Google was violating federal housing discrimination laws by allowing targeted ads. "It is one of our key duties at HUD to enforce the Fair Housing Act and ensure that all Americans have housing choice,” Secretary Carson said in a statement on Google’s announcement. “Improvements are underway in the online advertising space, and HUD encourages platforms, such as Google, to take these types of steps to eliminate unlawful discrimination in advertising and seek to ensure compliance with our Nation's Fair Housing laws.” In March 2019, HUD charged Facebook with violating housing discrimination laws through similar advertising practices, and HUD’s investigation into Facebook is still ongoing.
Chart of the Week
Renters need $16 billion per month in support to stay stably housed during COVID-19 crisis

In a blog post published Monday, Urban Institute Policy Program Manager Kathryn Reynolds and Policy Associate Aaron Shroyer showed that renters will need $16 billion per month in housing support to stay stably housed during the COVID-19 crisis. In the blog post, they compare two rental assistance proposals, bringing all renter households to a 30% rent-to-income ratio, which would cost $5.5 billion per month, and completely alleviating the rent burden for all renters, which would cost $15.5 billion per month.
What we're reading
In a report released on Tuesday, the NYU Furman Center examined trends in eviction filings in New York City in 2019. According to the report, eviction filings decreased nearly 30% in the city between 2013 and 2019, although the report noted the possibility of a spike in eviction filings this year due to COVID-19. Read the full report here.

Enterprise Community Partners published four essays by Enterprise staff members addressing issues of racial injustice. The essays came in response to the structural racism highlighted by recent protests over the police killings of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and George Floyd. Read the essays here.

In a press release on Thursday, Rebuilding Together announced a national collaboration with Wells Fargo to repair homes for people in need throughout the country. In the release, Rebuilding Together said that Wells Fargo is investing more than $1.3 million as part of the collaboration. Read the release here.

In an op-ed for HousingWire, NHC President and CEO David Dworkin and Home Builders Institute President and CEO Ed Brady addressed the role of housing in tackling systemic racism. “Our country needs to take intentional steps to produce tangible, economic gains for Americans who remain in the shadow of social injustice,” they wrote in the op-ed. “One place to start is in housing.” Read the op-ed here.
The week ahead
Monday, June 22

Tuesday, June 23

Wednesday, June 24

Thursday, June 25

Friday, June 26
The National Housing Conference has been defending the American Home since 1931. We believe everyone in America should have equal opportunity to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community. NHC convenes and collaborates with our diverse membership and the broader housing and community development sectors to advance our policy, research and communications initiatives to effect positive change at the federal, state and local levels. Politically diverse and nonpartisan, NHC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
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