*Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) to help families realize the dream of homeownership, protect Americans from mortgage fraud and save taxpayers money.
The FHA Reform Act of 2010 (H.R. 5072) ensures that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) remains viable and continues its mission of insuring mortgage loans. The bill passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 406-4.
“The FHA Reform Act is important for households across the country because it will enable FHA to respond to the current housing and economic crisis and continue to provide opportunities to millions of Americans for homeownership. As the private market has contracted, FHA has stepped into the void and injected much-needed credit into our mortgage system. Increasingly, it is the only option available for American homebuyers with less than a 20 percent down payment,” said Congresswoman Waters.
FHA has filled a vital role in the nation’s economy, helping 37 million Americans attain homeownership since 1934. FHA insurance has been particularly important for minority communities, low-income families, and first-time homebuyers.
Congresswoman Waters, chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, drafted the FHA Reform Act in response to news that FHA’s reserves had fallen below the two percent level required in law. The Act will strengthen FHA’s finances and save taxpayers $2.5 billion over five years, while still providing affordable mortgage insurance to the individuals FHA is intended to serve.
H.R. 5072 also provides FHA with enhanced authority to crack down on lenders engaged in fraud or misrepresentation or failing to comply with FHA guidelines for originating or underwriting loans. “Families, neighborhoods and the nation’s housing market have been hurt by irresponsible lending and mortgage fraud schemes, and we need to make sure homebuyers are protected. FHA has already taken steps to increase its lender enforcement activities, and this bill empowers the agency to root out the bad actors while reserving the program for the lenders that follow the rules,” Congresswoman Waters said.
In addition, Congresswoman Waters’ legislation requires FHA to improve its internal controls to better manage risk and to provide transparent data to the public and to Congress. This includes improving monitoring of early defaults and claims, tracking mortgage information by loan servicer, providing FHA with the ability to contract out for additional credit risk analysis, requiring mortgagees to report to FHA when they stop buying loans from other mortgagees and requiring a Government Accountability Office study on FHA and Ginnie Mae. The bill also creates a new Deputy Assistant Secretary at FHA for Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs.
Congresswoman Waters drafted the legislation after conducting three hearings on FHA in the last six months. She worked closely with both Democratic and Republican colleagues to produce a bill that gained bipartisan support.
H.R. 5072 has the support of a diverse group of organizations including the National Urban League, the National Council of La Raza, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders.