September 10, 2019
Brown Opening Statement at Hearing on Housing Finance Reform
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen.
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking,
Housing, and Urban Affairs – delivered the following opening statement at
today’s hearing entitled ‘Housing Finance Reform: Next Steps’.
remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:
Thank you, Mr.
Chairman, and thank you to all of our witnesses for being here today.
We’re going to
hear from the Trump Administration about the “next steps” on housing finance
reform, but it’s clear from the plan they put out last week what President
Trump thinks those steps should be – the Trump plan will make mortgages more
expensive and harder to get.
We shouldn’t have
to tell the president that we have an affordable housing crisis in this
country. We all know it – we all see it.
I see it when I
talk to residents of a manufactured housing community on the verge of losing
their home, because they can’t afford the rent increase imposed by wealthy
private equity investors who just bought their community.
I see it when I
drive past the boarded up houses that belonged to the victims of predatory
lending in my neighborhood of Slavic Village, and so many like it across the
I see it when I
talk to young people in their 20s and 30s who want to buy a home, but who are
drowning in student loan debt and can’t save enough for a down payment or
afford a mortgage.
These are the real
crises facing real families all across Ohio and around the country.
they’re homeowners, and they’re former homeowners, and they all have one thing
in common – they can’t afford a place to call home.
We have had very
productive hearings in this Committee where we talked about what it would take
for the housing finance system to actually work for working families.
In March, we held
two hearings with representatives from the Home Builders, the Realtors, the
Mortgage Bankers, the credit unions, the civil rights community, and
We heard during
those hearings that affordability and access aren’t just components of housing
finance – they’re the whole reason we have a housing finance system. They can’t
be an afterthought once we’ve answered other questions about the structure of
the housing finance system – they have to be built into the system.
We need a housing
system built on a mission to serve borrowers and renters, no matter who they
are, what kind of work they do, or where they live.
That means we need
policies that focus on increasing service for underserved markets, like rural
areas and manufactured homeowners, and borrowers who have been locked out of
the housing market over decades of discrimination.
And we need a
system that helps a wide variety of lenders and borrowers participate, so that
they can meet all families’ needs, particularly those who have been left behind
for far too long.
In our March
hearings and in the months since, we’ve heard housing stakeholders coalescing
around a few foundational principles for reform. They’ve said that reform
access to affordable 30-year fixed rate mortgages;
a catastrophic government guarantee;
loan guarantors like public utilities, providing a regulated rate of return;
a broad, national market;
lenders of all types and sizes equitably;
a duty to serve all markets and all borrowers;
affordable housing goals and metrics;
investment in affordable housing; and
the GSEs’ successful multifamily business models and ensure continued or better
access for financing of affordable rental housing.
unsurprisingly, President Trump and his Administration missed the point.
Rather than create
a system that addresses the needs of working families, the Trump Administration
has put out half-baked proposals that will make mortgages more expensive and
harder to get.
In addition to
increasing costs, the plan would make it harder for small lenders to compete,
and gut the existing tools we have to help underserved families finally find an
affordable apartment or own their first home.
plans would also roll back consumer protections and investor disclosures put in
place following the financial crisis, to prevent predatory loans and toxic
securities from building up in our financial system.
So let’s be clear:
whether you’re renting and want to buy a home, or own a home and someday want
to sell it, President Trump’s plan hurts you – all to funnel more money to the
same Wall Street system that wrecked the housing market and wrecked families’ lives
I was encouraged
when I saw that Treasury’s plan had nine separate proposals dedicated to
“leveling the playing field.”
I thought this
might mean leveling the playing field for communities of color, young
households trapped by student debt, or renters who can’t afford to save for a
So you can imagine
my disappointment when I saw that all nine proposals – every last one – were
about “leveling the playing field” for Wall Street, which is looking to make
money off of working families’ mortgages.
Of course we
shouldn’t be surprised. Ultimately this plan is the same as every other Trump
Administration plan – it’s about making it easier for Wall Street to profit off
These plans come
in the midst of a flurry of other troubling Administration proposals to weaken
fair housing and fair lending protections, and gut a bedrock civil rights law,
the Community Reinvestment Act.
the President has once again decided to side with Wall Street wealth over the
dignity of work.
We don’t need to
make it easier for Wall Street to get richer. To quote Secretary Carson, “news
flash, rich people are going to get richer anyway.”
We need to make it
easier for every family to find an affordable place to call home.
optional. Housing is a basic need, and no one should go without it in this