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Summer Attention: ICBA and CAP Warn Differently

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 23 July 2013 00:00

The problem with summer is that it has trained us to concentrate on fun and relaxation. Yes, that is a problem. Serious housing and financial issues don't take a summer holiday. Outcomes can suffer from lack of support just when public attention is most important.

For instance, The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) recently raised one of these serious housing issues, and others responded. In mid-summer, are they and the relevant issues receiving the attention deserved?

On July 12, ICBA commented on the release of a statement on proposed housing finance reform legislation by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and other members of Congress: "ICBA appreciates the efforts of Chairman Hensarling and other lawmakers for proposing legislation to reform the housing government-sponsored enterprises. Continued community bank access to a financially strong, reliable and impartial secondary mortgage market is essential to preserving access to mortgage credit in all areas of the country and supporting the housing recovery. All lenders should have equitable access to the secondary market to ensure the continued flow of mortgage credit to consumers nationwide.

"This legislation advances an important discussion that is critical to the economic health and well-being of Main Street communities. Given community banks' direct and fundamental ties to their communities, it's essential that the community banking industry continue to be closely involved in the process of secondary-market reform."

The ICBA identifies itself as "the nation's voice for nearly 7,000 community banks of all sizes and charter types." ICBA represents the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through advocacy, education, and their products and services.

In contrast to ICBA's reaction to this housing reform proposal, the Center for American Progress (CAP) advocated a different response to the House Financial Services Committee outline of a bill to reform the entire housing-finance system, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Julia Gordon, CAP Director of Housing Finance and Policy issued the following reaction: "Chairman Hensarling has released the ultimate right-wing wish list, turning the entire mortgage market over to Wall Street lock, stock, and barrel. It's a politically motivated sideshow that ignores the general consensus forming around the government's role in a responsible market and threatens not only the nascent housing recovery but also prospects for overall economic growth.

"If enacted, Chairman Hensarling's legislation would eliminate the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, put homeownership out of reach for millions of young borrowers, communities of colors, and low-wealth families, further constrict the already-inadequate supply of affordable rental housing, and leave the housing market fully exposed to the private market's cyclical fluctuations. This is not a serious legislative proposal. Rather, House Financial Services Committee Republicans are filing a PAC fundraising letter with the clerk of the House."

The Center for Amercian Progress describes itself as "an independent nonpartisan educational institute dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action."

Where do you stand on this and other housing issues? Where are you getting your information from? Whose "filters" and real estate biases are affecting your view of what needs to be done to improve local housing choices and keep roofs over our heads in the winter?

Don't take the summer off from issues that could affect your housing choices. Instead, take this relatively quiet time to catch up on housing issues and discuss alternatives with friends and family around the campfire.


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