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Weekly update from the National Housing Conference
News from Washington I By Quinn Mulholland
House passes $3 trillion relief package, including rental assistance

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion relief package to respond to the Coronavirus crisis, which includes $100 billion in emergency rental assistance for low-income tenants. The package also includes $11.5 billion in Emergency Solutions Grants to help people experiencing homelessness, $75 billion in aid for homeowners, and $100 million for housing counselors. Additionally, it would extend and expand the eviction and foreclosure moratorium under the CARES Act to include all renters and homeowners, not just those in properties with a federally-backed mortgage. The bill’s prospect in the Senate remains unclear, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticizing the bill as “not something designed to deal with reality but designed to deal with aspirations.”

In separate announcements on Thursday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced that the agencies will extend their respective moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions until at least June 30. FHFA’s moratorium, which was set to expire on May 17, applies to single-family properties with GSE-backed mortgages; FHA’s moratorium applies to homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages.
FHFA announces new payment deferral option

FHFA announced last week that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are making available a new payment deferral option allowing borrowers in forbearance to repay their missed payments when the home is sold, refinanced or at maturity. This announcement came as the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that almost 4 million mortgages were in forbearance as of May 3, representing roughly 8% of all mortgages. NHC has previously called for mortgage deferral options without consumers being put in lump-sum repayment. In a previous announcement , FHFA clarified that lump-sum repayment will not be required, and mortgage payment deferral is the logical conclusion of the waterfall of options that includes both lump-sum repayment and a defined repayment plan. NHC continues to be hopeful that the deferral option will be presented to consumers first, avoiding unnecessary confusion about how they might qualify for this option and reducing the amount of interaction required between the servicer and the homeowner. The steps FHFA and the GSEs have taken are a significant improvement and lay the groundwork for ongoing enhancements of the servicer script and homeowner options.
House, Senate committees hold virtual hearings with financial regulators

On Tuesday, the Senate Banking Commmittee held a virtual hearing on oversight of the financial regulators featuring testimony from Federal Reserve Board of Governors Vice Chairman Randal Quarles, Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairwoman Jelena McWilliams and National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Rodney Hood. Quarles, Otting, McWilliams and Hood also participated in a virtual roundtable on Wednesday hosted by House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.). During the Senate hearing, committee Democrats criticized Otting for moving forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the FDIC on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said in his opening statement that “the OCC is marching ahead with its plan to dismantle a civil rights-era law that requires banks to actually serve the communities where they do business, including low- and moderate-income communities.” Otting, however, insisted that the CRA modernization effort should be “accelerated,” arguing that “it would drive more dollars into low and moderate income communities across America.”
CFPB, FHFA, HUD launch website for homeowners, renters affected by COVID

On Tuesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), FHFA and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched a website with federal resources on mortgage and housing assistance for renters and homeowners. The website features information on requesting mortgage forbearance, protections for renters, and avoiding scams and bad actors. “During these uncertain times, consumers need reliable, fair, and accurate information on the protections and relief options available to them,” said CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger in a statement. “This joint website achieves this important goal for homeowners and renters, outlining clearly the changes that policymakers are making to assist them.” NHC recently joined 31 other organizations across the housing industry in calling for federal officials to create a consolidated consumer-facing COVID-19 web portal .
Montgomery confirmed as HUD Deputy Secretary

On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Brian Montgomery as Deputy Secretary of HUD. Montgomery, who has served in the role on an interim basis for almost 18 months, previously served as the Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner. In a statement , HUD Secretary Ben Carson applauded Montgomery’s confirmation, saying “I am thrilled that the Senate agrees that he will be an excellent Deputy Secretary.” Montgomery said in a statement, “I am honored to take on this new role, supporting the outstanding leadership of Secretary Carson during an extraordinary time for our country.” The Senate Banking Committee also advanced the nomination of Dana Wade to succeed Montgomery as Assistant Secretary for Housing on Tuesday. Wade now awaits confirmation by the full Senate.
Enterprise launches COVID-19 emergency response program

On Friday, Enterprise Community Partners launched Emergency Action for Resident and Partner Stability, a COVID-19 response program providing relief funding and assistance to nonprofits nationwide to ensure that individuals and families living in affordable housing communities can remain in their homes and access support. The program offers nonprofit community partners flexible support, including emergency grants of up to $150,000, immediate and long-term guidance on resilience planning and financial strategies, and aid for organizations seeking government relief funds. “COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting people and communities of color,” said Enterprise CEO Priscilla Almodovar in a statement. “Affordable housing providers, many of whom are nonprofits, are on the front-lines assembling resources to support their residents and carry out basic operations. Governmental aid is critical over the long term but people need help right now, and philanthropy is stepping up.” Owners and operators of affordable housing interested in learning more about the program can fill out an inquiry form .
Chart of the Week
Nonbanks comprise an increasing share of the mortgage market

In a recent article for the Wall Street Journal , Ben Eisen examined the difficulties nonbank mortgage lenders may face during the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, given that they don’t have deposits or other business lines to cushion them. These nonbanks, according to the article, have comprised a growing share of the mortgage market since 2010, representing almost 60% of originations in 2019.
What we're reading
In an article published Tuesday, Vogue profiled the activists behind the Moms 4 Housing campaign in the Bay Area. The campaign, which started at the end of 2019 when the activists began occupying a vacant home in Oakland to highlight the Bay Area’s housing crisis, has taken on new significance during the COVID-19 crisis. Read the article here .

Former CFPB Director Richard Cordray wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post on how to avert another foreclosure crisis amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Cordray argued that the CFPB has put in place measures to protect against the type of abusive practices that occurred during the previous recession, but that more must be done to keep Americans in their homes. Read the op-ed here .

In an article for the New Yorker , Princeton professor Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor called for the cancellation of rent to protect low-income tenants across the country facing financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. “If our government can spend trillions of dollars to bail corporations out of a worsening economic situation, then there is no reason why that same gesture cannot be extended to poor and working-class families,” Taylor wrote. Read the article here .
The week ahead
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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