MBA Ask House Support for Housing Priorities in T-HUD Bill

The Mortgage Bankers Association, in a May 10 letter to House budget appropriators, urged support for a number of legislative priorities in the Administration’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017.

The appropriations legislation, known as T-HUD, is a $56.5 billion bill that covers key transportation initiatives, but also the HUD fiscal year 2017 budget. The House Appropriations Committee, and specifically, the House Appropriations Transportation and HUD subcommittee, are expected to take up the bill this month.

MBA Senior Vice President of Legislative & Political Affairs Bill Killmer outlined a number of MBA-supported priorities in the T-HUD bill, including:

Resources for FHA
MBA continues to staunchly support providing FHA with the resources, both in staffing and systems upgrades, it needs. Killmer urged the Committee to continue, as it has over the past two budget cycles, to block HUD from charging a fee to single-family lenders as a funding mechanism to cover FHA’s administrative costs.

“Instead, we have urged Congress to fund FHA’s needs through the regular appropriations process, as has been the practice for decades,” Killmer wrote. “We are especially pleased the Senate Appropriations Committee, in its version of the pending HUD appropriations bill, specifically designated $13 million in information technology funds for FHA via a $23 million increase (above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level) for HUD’s Information Technology Fund. We believe this is a far better way to fund an agency’s technology needs–rather than through an unprecedented off-budget fee that will undoubtedly be passed on the very borrowers FHA is designed to serve and ultimately raise the cost of homeownership.”

Ginnie Mae Funding
MBA supports providing the full $23 million requested for Ginnie Mae’s staffing, training and technology needs. “Given Ginnie Mae’s key role in providing liquidity targeted to low- and moderate-income families, first-time homebuyers, renters, veterans and rural households, this funding level is necessary to prudently manage the increased loan volume in the single-family and multifamily mortgage markets,” MBA said. “In addition, in recent years, market share for FHA, VA and Rural Housing Service single-family lending has shifted toward a more diversified base of smaller lenders. This has been a positive trend for Ginnie Mae that reduces concentration risks in the program.”

FHA Multifamily/Healthcare Finance Programs
MBA urged the Committee to once again provide $30 billion in commitment authority for the General and Special Risk Insurance Fund in FY 2017 as well as full funding for rental assistance, particularly Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance. “Together, these programs permit private sector lenders to continue to finance workforce and affordable apartments and residential healthcare facilities that serve millions of Americans,” Killmer said.

Eminent Domain

MBA recommended that the appropriations bill maintain for a third year the prohibition on federal funds being used to facilitate eminent domain seizures of performing mortgage loans. “By enacting this prohibition for the past two fiscal years, Congress was able to temporarily defuse this threat. If the ban is not renewed, the threat posed by these schemes would return,” Killmer said. “The introduction of this new risk to the housing finance system would severely impact the return of private capital to our markets, and would undermine congressional efforts to successfully transition to a new housing finance system.”

Housing/Homeownership Counseling
MBA urged the Committee to include $47 million for this purpose. “These funds are critical to assisting homeowners facing foreclosure, helping first-time homebuyers navigate the challenges of the purchase process and counseling for reverse mortgages (a program requirement) for seniors, a traditionally high-risk group for financial fraud,” MBA said.