FHFA Holds Duty to Serve Roundtable, Mary Tingerthal Participates
On April 20, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) held a roundtable with leading affordable housing, consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental organizations to solicit their input on FHFA’s proposed “Duty to Serve” rule. NCSHA was represented at the roundtable by Minnesota Housing Commissioner and NCSHA Board member Mary Tingerthal. Other participants included representatives from Enterprise Community Partners, Center for American Progress, National Housing Conference, National Housing Trust, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, National Fair Housing Alliance, and NeighborWorks America. NCSHA staff accompanied Mary to the roundtable.
FHFA held the roundtable to give organizations that had submitted comments on its proposed rule an opportunity to further discuss their views, answer FHFA questions, and comment on other organizations’ submissions. It was explicitly not an opportunity to raise new matter. FHFA is also holding three other roundtables to discuss other aspects of the proposed rule. Notes and attendee lists from the meetings will be made public as part of the rulemaking record.
The Duty to Serve proposal would require the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to support housing for lower income families in three underserved segments of the housing finance market: manufactured housing, affordable housing preservation, and homeownership opportunities in rural areas. NCSHA previously summarized the proposed rule on our blog.
The roundtable discussion covered: Housing Credit investment; extra credit for residential economic diversity; preservation; underserved markets plans the GSEs must develop to describe how they will comply with their duty to serve obligations; how FHFA will evaluate those plans; manufactured housing; energy efficiency; and community stabilization;.
Several roundtable participants, including Tingerthal, supported allowing the GSEs to resume Housing Credit investments on a limited basis for properties to which the GSEs could offer better pricing or terms. The GSEs were substantial Housing Credit investors until they were taken into conservatorship by FHFA, which banned such investments. The proposed rule solicited comment on whether FHFA should lift the ban.
Another issue the roundtable addressed was FHFA’s proposal to allow the GSEs to receive extra credit toward their Duty to Serve obligations for supporting activities that promote “residential economic diversity” and serve to lessen the economic isolation of lower, low-, and moderate-income families. Tingerthal and others expressed concern about FHFA’s proposal to define “high opportunity areas,” where GSE activities will be eligible for extra credit, as HUD-designated Difficult to Develop Areas (DDA). Tingerthal also urged FHFA to allow the GSEs to use “high opportunity area” designations developed by HFAs and other state agencies. Some other participants, including those representing groups focused on civil rights and fair housing issues, objected to relying on state definitions and encouraged FHFA to develop a national standard. Other participants supported deferring to state definitions.
At the conclusion of the roundtable, FHFA said it appreciated the added discussion on the proposed rule and would consider the participants’ comments as it prepares its final rule. FHFA could not say when it expects to publish the final rule.
NCSHA thanks Mary Tingerthal for her willingness to accept FHFA’s invitation to participate. Please send any questions and/or comments to Greg Zagorski.