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Civil Rights, Housing Advocates Say Protect Access and Affordability in GSE Reform

Friday, December 15, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Leading civil and human rights organizations and housing policy advocates wrote in a letter today that both the U.S. Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees to demand that stakeholders—now excluded from current Congressional discussion on reforming the nation’s housing finance system—be expanded to include all voices and perspectives. Organizations seeking to advise the congressional committees are: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, Center for Responsible Lending, National Fair Housing Alliance, NAACP, UNIDOS USA, National Urban League, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil rights.

The top policy concern of the organizations is to preserve the current system’s access and affordability provisions, especially the Affordable Housing Goals. They are also concerned that the nation’s homeownership rate is still declining and rental housing rates are skyrocketing. The advocates state that these difficult market dynamics affect borrowers of color and low-to-moderate income families. They maintain that everyone should be entitled to safe, decent, and affordable housing.

"Now is not the time to experiment with untested or unproven proposals that will harm our constituents and the market overall," warned the groups. "When homeownership opportunity grows, communities across the country benefit, and the American economy is stronger." "For more than 25 years, access and affordability has helped millions of families to have their own American Dream." "We will organize against any legislation that retreats."

Reportedly, some proposals under discussion would unnecessarily increase costs for underserved borrowers because it would reduce the system’s pooling of credit risk. Further, if the House is considering policies that would restrict access to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, lawmakers should be reminded that this program saved the mortgage market from total collapse after private credit withdrew following the Housing Crash of 2008. It is also the entry point into the system for millions of first-time homebuyers.

Recent Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data shows that only 9 percent of conventional mortgage loans went to borrowers of color, and that FHA provided the greatest source of mortgage credit for consumers of color over several years.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with a CRL spokesperson on this issue, please contact Charlene Crowell at