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Washington, D.C. – UNC Center for Community Capital executive director Janneke Ratcliffe urged Congress to ensure that the nation’s new mortgage finance system provides broad access to reasonably priced financing for both homeownership and rental so that more families, including the historically underserved, will have safe and sustainable housing options.

Further, taking away the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage would make the housing market too risky, Ratcliffe told members of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs at its March 29 hearing on public proposals for the future of the housing finance system.

“From the 1930s to the 2000s, the United States enjoyed a vibrant, stable housing market that evolved to provide mortgage money at all times, in all parts of the country, for sustainable homeownership and rental housing,” Ratcliffe said. “The system was not perfect but it contains valuable lessons for us as we look to rebuild. By applying those lessons to meet the goals outlined in this testimony, you have the opportunity to build a system that rebalances housing choices and works better for more households and more communities than the system that has been in place for the last 70 years.”

Ratcliffe, who is also a senior research fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and a member of its broad-based Mortgage Finance Working Group, presented the working group’s “Plan for a Responsible Market for Housing Finance” at the hearing.

The proposal seeks to retain what worked in the past while avoiding pitfalls that caused the mortgage crisis by building on five principles: liquidity, stability, transparency, affordability and consumer protection.

“The immediate task is to restore confidence in the housing market but we are also convinced that, long term, housing can continue to be core to Americans’ prosperity and economic security, and the foundation of middle-class opportunity,” Ratcliffe said.

To meet this mission, housing finance reform must achieve three goals, she said:

  • Provide broad access to reasonably priced financing for both homeownership and rental housing.
  • Preserve the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which allows families to fix their housing costs, build assets  and plan for their future in an increasingly volatile economy.
  • Ensure that lenders, large and small, in communities large and small can competitively offer the affordable, transparent, safe mortgage loans that borrowers need.

View her testimony.

Mortgage finance is a major area of focus for the Center for Community Capital, the leading center for research and policy analysis on the transformative power of capital on households and communities in the United States. The center is part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its in-depth analyses help policymakers, advocates and the private sector find sustainable ways to expand economic opportunity to more people, more effectively. For more information, visit www.ccc.unc.edu or call
(919) 843-2140.


Topics(s): Affordable Homeownership, Mortgage Finance, Other, Testimony
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