NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel testified on December 21 before the House Financial Services Committee on the opportunity to expand investments in the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF), the first new program in a generation designed to build and preserve homes for the lowest income people in America, through housing finance reform. “We urge that any housing finance reform legislation provide a minimum of $3.5 billion annually to the Housing Trust Fund,” Diane stated in her opening remarks.
Diane informed the committee led by Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) that there are just 35 homes affordable and available for every 100 of the lowest-income households in America – seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children. Millions of these households are spending more than half of their incomes on their housing, leaving them “one financial emergency away from not being able to pay the rent, facing eviction, and possible homelessness.” The HTF was created precisely to meet the housing needs of these households, and the private sector on its own cannot address these needs without federal assistance, Diane explained. To a question from Representative Warren Davidson (R-OH) if it is “rational” to increase federal housing assistance, Diane responded that “it is irrational not to” because affordable homes are central to positive outcomes in health, education, economic well-being, and other essential areas. In response to an inquiry from Representative Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) about imposing work and job-training requirements on “the most disadvantaged among us,” Diane made it clear that such obstacles would be counter-productive, noting that the vast majority of these households are seniors, people with disabilities, and people already engaged in the low-wage workforce. The other witnesses at the hearing were former Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Ed DeMarco (currently at the Housing Policy Council), Vince Matta (National Association of Realtors), Robert Broeksmit (Mortgage Bankers Association), Jerry Howard (National Association of Homebuilders), Don Calcaterra (Community Home Lenders Association), Rick Stafford (National Association of Federal Credit Unions), Lindsey Johnson (U.S. Mortgage Insurers), Norbert Mitchel (Heritage Foundation), and Alex Pollack (R Street Institute). Read Diane’s written testimony at: https://bit.ly/2s7ByB6 and read the testimony of all the witnesses at: https://bit.ly/2Ao2Xn0Watch a video recording of the hearing at: https://cs.pn/2GxJYvG