With few legislative days left on the Congressional calendar, chances are slim for action on the several pieces of legislation that would fund the National Housing Trust Fund. Housing finance reform is not expected to move any further this year.
Three housing finance reform bills would provide significant funding for the NHTF: S. 1217, AKA Johnson-Crapo (see Memo, 5/16); H.R. 5505 , introduced by Representatives John Delaney (D-MD), John Carney (D-DE), and Jim Himes (D-CT) (see Memo, 7/11); and a discussion draft circulated by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), who serves as Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee. S. 1217 was reported out of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on May 15, 2014.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a cost estimate of S. 1217 on Friday, September 5, 2014. A preliminary review indicates that CBO estimates the level of funding for NHTF and the other affordable housing program is less than estimates made by the bill drafters. NLIHC will provide a full analysis of the CBO report in next week’s Memo.
The fourth housing finance reform bill, H.R. 2767, introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), would repeal the NHTF statute. H.R. 2767 was voted out of committee on July 23, 2013 (see Memo, 7/26/2013).
Another threat to the NHTF is in the House THUD Appropriations bill (see article below) that would prohibit HUD from spending any funding to administer the NHTF.
Two recent papers offer analyses of the housing finance reform debate. “The Devil is in the Mortgage Finance Reform Details” by Barry Zigas of the Consumer Federation of America can be found at http://bit.ly/1B9W0i2. The Urban Institute paper by Laurie Goodman titled “A Realistic Assessment of Housing Finance Reform” is at http://urbn.is/1we0uRS.
The other funding strategy for the NHTF in the 113th Congress has been through changes to the mortgage interest deduction (MID). H.R 1213, introduced by Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) on March 15, 2013, would make modest changes to the MID and use the revenue raised to fund the NHTF and other low income housing programs (see Memo, 3/15/2013). H.R. 1213 in its entirety is included in H.R. 5352, a comprehensive anti-poverty bill introduced by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) (see Memo, 8/4). Neither bill is expected to be taken up before the end of the year.
On the Administrative side, NLIHC and others remain hopeful that Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt will lift the suspension on the requirement that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fund the NHTF and the Capital Magnet Fund (see Memo, 1/10), although many observers are puzzled why he has not done so to date.
Meanwhile, the long-awaited NHTF regulations are in clearance at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).