On September 8, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity held a hearing, “Determining the Role of the Federal Housing Finance Administration, Rural Housing Services and Ginnie Mae in the Single- and Multi-Family Mortgage Markets, Part 2.”
One of the proposals considered by the Subcommittee was a draft bill, the FHA-Rural Regulatory Improvement Act of 2011, which would move management of the Rural Housing Service (RHS) from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to HUD (see Memo, 5/27).
Proponents of consolidating rental housing programs into HUD say it would reduce inefficiencies and duplication across federal agencies. However, both USDA and HUD oppose the proposal in its current form.
Carol Galante, Acting Federal Housing Administration Commissioner and Assistant Secretary for Housing at HUD, and Tammye Trevino, Administrator, Housing and Community Facilities Programs, USDA, Rural Development Agency, spoke about collaboration between the two agencies and the Department of the Treasury through the White House’s Rental Policy Working Groups.
“Given the ongoing and initial stages of these various collaborations,” said Ms. Galante in her written testimony, “we believe it makes sense to continue focusing for now on those efforts, rather than contemplating a more extensive reordering of the various federal agencies’ roles in these programs, as outlined in the legislation.”
“Rural communities have a unique set of challenges, quite different from those in urban areas, and it is imperative that we not lose focus on the specific needs and challenges in rural America,” said Ms. Trevino in her written testimony.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Representative Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) voiced support for the services provided by RHS, and expressed concern about any potential move of RHS into HUD.
Subcommittee Chair Judy Biggert (R-IL) entered into the hearing record testimony from NLIHC. NLIHC is opposed to the proposal in its current form and asks in its testimony that further consideration of the proposal to be postponed until advocates and other stakeholders have more time to review the measure.
It is unclear if the draft proposal will be formally introduced. The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture will hold a hearing to review Rural Development programs, including those in the Rural Housing Service, on September 13 (see elsewhere in Memo).
View the draft legislative proposal: http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/fha_rural.pdf
View NLIHC’s testimony: http://nlihc.org/doc/NLIHC_RHS_Proposal_Testimony_9-8-11.pdf
All witness testimony and an archived hearing webcast is available at: http://financialservices.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=257901