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Report Offers Future Vision for Nation’s Housing Policy

Bipartisan Policy Center

A new report by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) charts a potential path forward for the nation’s housing policy, focusing on America’s challenges in the single-family and multifamily housing sectors, as well as the issues of rural housing and aging in place. The report - Housing America's Future: New Directions in Housing Policy – was issued by the Center’s Housing Commission and lays out a framework for the eventual wind down of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a possible alternative for the future. In addition, the report calls for significant investments to be made in the provision of affordable housing for the nation's most vulnerable households. The report also summarizes the history of America's housing policy over the last century.

In the report, BPC proposes that the private sector take the primary role and risk in relation to America's single-family mortgage market. They propose that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be wound down, with a government agency created instead to act as a Public Guarantor. In this capacity, the government would be the last stop in case of market failure, with the private sector taking on more of the risks involved in the mortgage backed securities market.

The report also calls for changes in the Housing Choice Voucher program that would focus housing assistance on the nation’s most vulnerable households who have very low incomes and who are burdened by their housing costs. They recommend expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, providing additional funding to meet the capital needs of the nation’s public housing and funding of short-term emergency programs aimed at keeping vulnerable households in housing to prevent homelessness. Coupled with this would be a move to a performance-based system for those providing housing assistance, with a focus on outcomes for program participants. The Commission recommends that agencies that perform well be rewarded with greater flexibility in implementation of federal programs.

The report goes on to discuss issues related to rural housing, identifying the critical role of USDA in providing housing assistance in the nation’s rural areas. The Commission recommends that USDA’s capacity be increased in order to serve more households, but only upon a review of existing programs given the current high delinquency rates in their loan programs.

The Commission also takes a special look into the issue of the nation’s aging population and how to address their housing needs by making better connections across federal agencies. For example, the report cites the needs to better coordinate programs designed to address the housing and health care needs of the aging population and to integrate aging in place into existing programs that can address the housing issues this population will face, such as weatherization, reverse mortgages, etc.

For more on the report, click here.


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