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New York, N.Y. — The Center for Community Capital, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, convened researchers, mortgage industry representatives and others Aug. 24 for a working session to discuss potential changes to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) reporting requirements.

The Federal Reserve Board of Governors calling for public input on possible changes to Regulation C, which implements HMDA. The board is holding a series of hearings to gather public input www.federalreserve.gov/communitydev/hmda_hearings.htm) and is also accepting written comments. HMDA requires mortgage lenders to provide detailed reports about their mortgage lending activity to regulators and the public.

The center’s event, hosted at the New York headquarters of the Ford Foundation, drew participation from mortgage finance researchers, consumer advocates experienced in using HMDA data, and representatives of the private and public sector. The diversity of perspectives was meant to encourage creative thinking about how an expanded HMDA dataset could enhance HMDA’s ability to meet its traditional goals as well as potential new purposes.

HMDA’s three traditional goals are: to help determine how lenders are meeting the housing needs of the communities they serve; to determine where additional public investment is necessary in order to attract private capital; and to identify possible discrimination in lending. The subprime mortgage crisis and other changes in the mortgage market raise questions about whether HMDA might be expanded.

Participants at the center’s forum suggested two new potentially valuable uses: using HMDA to identify and anticipate products and services that may represent risk to the soundness of the financial system and as a way of tracking outcomes, such as payment, foreclosure and loan modification, of different mortgage products.

Participants discussed what additional data fields would be necessary to make HMDA more adept at meeting its current and potential future goals. Banking and secondary market sector representatives informed the discussion by sharing their on-the-ground experience reporting HMDA data.

Because the addition of new data fields raises questions of privacy, participants heard from a representative of the U.S. Census on the Census model for protecting privacy and restricting access to data.

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
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