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Sen. Tim Kaine joins Senate effort to address affordable rental housing

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congressIn an effort to strengthen the economy and increase the supply of affordable rental housing across the country, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine joined a group of 32 U.S. senators led by Jack Reed (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in a letter sent to Mel Watt, the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), urging him to end the suspension of contributions to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) within all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

In December of 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed Mel Watt to lead FHFA as the country’s top housing regulator, overseeing more than $5 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage market. As the FHFA’s newly confirmed Director, Mr. Watt has the power to lift the suspension and the Senators noted: “The time is long overdue to lift the current suspension of contributions to the NHTF and CMF, and we ask your full and fair consideration of this request.”

 

Full text of the letter follows:

January 23, 2014

The Honorable Mel Watt

Director

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)

400 7th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20024

 

Dear Director Watt:

We write first to congratulate you on being confirmed and sworn in as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  We also share your concern about the need for more affordable rental housing in this country and ask that you end the suspension of contributions to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF), in a manner fully consistent with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

The affordable rental housing crisis that prompted Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to create the NHTF and CMF has only gotten worse in the last five years.  Since passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act in 2008, the number of homes that are affordable to renters with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income decreased by more than 1 million units.  According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, there is currently a national shortage of nearly 5 million units affordable and available to extremely low-income renters.  Funding the NHTF and CMF would help ameliorate this crisis.

We are all committed to reforming the mortgage finance system and do not believe Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be returned to their previous form.  However, directing much needed funding for affordable rental housing should not wait until Congress and the President are able to agree on a new system.  The time is long overdue to lift the current suspension of contributions to the NHTF and CMF, and we ask your full and fair consideration of our request.

We look forward to hearing from you in a timely fashion and working with you as FHFA Director on this and other important matters.

Sincerely,

Jack Reed

Barbara Boxer

Elizabeth Warren

Bernie Sanders

Richard Blumenthal

Carl Levin

Jeff Merkley

Chris Murphy

Ed Markey

Jeanne Shaheen

Debbie Stabenow

Tim Kaine

Kirsten Gillibrand

Cory Booker

Al Franken

Barbara Mikulski

Ron Wyden

Mazie Hirono

Dick Durbin

Tammy Baldwin

Amy Klobuchar

Tom Harkin

Sherrod Brown

Ben Cardin

Sheldon Whitehouse

Dianne Feinstein

Bob Menendez

Chuck Schumer

Brian Schatz

Patty Murray

Patrick Leahy

Bob Casey

Mary Landrieu

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