MacArthur, Gottheimer Voted to Protect the National Housing Trust Fund
On December 13, 2017, the House Financial Services Committee passed 13 bills including H.R. 4560, the “GSE Jumpstart Reauthorization Act of 2017,” which would require Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Wat to suspend payments to the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) in any fiscal year that he acts to reestablish a capital buffer for the government-sponsored entities (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The HTF is funded through a small fee on the GSEs’ earnings. The GSEs’ capital buffers will be reduced to zero in 2018 because all of their profits are currently being swept to the Treasury. Mr. Watt has explored retaining dividends to bolster the GSEs’ financial security.
Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) offered an amendment to eliminate the provision jeopardizing payments to the HTF, which failed along party lines. The bill will now move to the House Floor for a vote.
The Housing Trust Fund is the first federal housing resource in a generation designed to help build and preserve rental homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes. It is specifically designed to address the housing needs of people most severely impacted by the U.S. rental housing crisis.
These individuals include America’s lowest income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and people experiencing homelessness. If H.R.4560 is enacted, funding for the HTF will likely be suspended until Congress enacts legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been in government conservatorship for nearly a decade.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) has sent a letter to members of the Committee expressing its opposition to the bill.
NLIHC, its members, and other stakeholders played a critical role in the creation of the HTF through the passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
In 2016, the first $174 million in HTF dollars were allocated to states. In 2017, $219 million is available.
These initial allocations are important steps, but far more resources are needed.