Civil rights and affordable housing groups are criticizing a draft bipartisan bill to overhaul the housing finance system and revamp Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a development that could cement liberal opposition to the legislative effort.
The groups called the draft an “ill-conceived approach [that] places the risk on the backs of the hardworking families who already rescued the big banks.”
The statement was provided by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who were joined by The Center for Responsible Lending, the NAACP, National CAPACD, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Urban League, and UnidosUS, the group formerly known as the National Council of La Raza.
The draft legislation in question, a version of which was leaked and published by Bloomberg news this week, is led by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is aiming to pass a bipartisan overhaul of the housing finance system this year.
In 2014, the Senate Banking Committee advanced a version of a reform bill based on legislation he wrote with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., although the bill did not advance to the Senate floor.
The version of the reform currently under discussion is calibrated to earn support from Democrats, and includes features meant to attract support from the left at the risk of losing support among conservatives, including a government guarantee for mortgage-backed securities and contributions to affordable housing funds.
But the groups faulted the bill for not including affordable housing goals for the private guarantors that would package home loans into securities for sale in the secondary market, and for not holding them to a “duty to serve” certain markets.
Already, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has staked out opposition to the bill and said the draft “isn’t even close to a solution that works for families who hope to buy homes” in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner.
The civil rights groups’ statement could help shore up liberal senator opposition to the bill.
Fannie and Freddie have been in government hands since they were bailed out during the housing crisis in 2008. Corker has called for overhauling the housing system on the grounds that legislation is needed to prevent the two from being released back into the private sector, where they earned private profits before receiving a taxpayer bailout.
Currently, however, the two entities are both issuing guaranteed mortgage-backed securities and contributing to affordable housing trust funds, lessening the incentives for both banks and the housing industry as well as affordable housing advocates to push for an overhaul.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has expressed support for bipartisan legislation, but said this week that he also would have administrative options for addressing the status of Fannie and Freddie if Congress does not act.