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Senate confirmation of Watt marks new era for U.S. housing finance system

Statement from the National Housing Conference on the confirmation of Rep. Mel Watt as FHFA director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—December 11, 2013                           

Amy Clark
202.466.2121 (ext. 226) 

WASHINGTON—Today’s confirmation of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is a hopeful sign for the progress of housing finance reform in the United States.

“We’re pleased to see this leadership from the Senate in confirming someone with a strong track record of support for housing to this position,” said Chris Estes, President and CEO of the National Housing Conference (NHC), a nonprofit policy, advocacy and research organization. “Senate confirmation of Rep. Watt makes way for the agency to take a new direction toward fulfilling the housing needs of all in America.”

Confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 57 to 41, largely along partisan lines, Watt faces a difficult set of tasks in his new position. The FHFA director is charged with conserving the assets of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), regulating the GSEs as they operate now, and preparing for transition to a changed housing finance system, all with a concentration on serving the housing needs of all Americans.

“As FHFA director, Rep. Watt will need to take action on a number of key issues in order for America’s pressing affordable housing needs to be met,” said Ethan Handelman, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy at NHC. “We hope he will focus on ensuring reliable capital flows to multifamily housing, starting funding to the National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund, and ensuring that qualified borrowers of low and moderate income have access to affordable mortgages.”

Watt arrives as FHFA director with a long history of overseeing the GSEs and a dedication to affordable housing through his committee service in the House. “During my time in North Carolina, I worked closely with Rep. Watt and the rest of the state’s congressional delegation on affordable housing policy,” said Estes. “Rep. Watt has demonstrated an enduring commitment to affordable housing and extensive experience working with a wide range of stakeholders, and I look forward to working with him in his new position.”


About the National Housing Conference

The National Housing Conference (NHC) represents a diverse membership of housing stakeholders including tenant advocates, mortgage bankers, nonprofit and for-profit home builders, property managers, policy practitioners, realtors, equity investors, and more, all of whom share a commitment to safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America. We are the nation’s oldest housing advocacy organization, dedicated to the affordable housing mission since our founding in 1931. As a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit, we bring together our broad-based membership to advocate on housing issues.

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