December 11, 2014

Senators Applaud FHFA’s Move to Fill Affordable Rental Housing Funds

WASHINGTON, DC - After the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) took a major step toward making affordable renting housing more available to American families, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today applauded FHFA's decision to end the temporary suspension of contributions to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF). The CMF was also designed to increase investment in related economic development activities or community service facilities, such as workforce development centers.

"This is a smart step toward strengthening our economy and increasing the supply of affordable rental housing across the country. It will allow more renters to find the homes they need at prices they can afford and will help with economic development initiatives in low income or rural areas," said Senator Reed, who first began working on affordable housing trust fund legislation back in 2000 and led the effort to create the NHTF and the CMF in 2008 as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act.

"I am delighted by Director Watt's decision to fully fund the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund which will help millions of families find affordable rental housing," said Senator Boxer.

"FHFA's decision to restart funding for the National Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund is great news for families in Massachusetts and around the country," said Senator Warren. "Making sure people have access to housing must be a top priority, and these important funds will provide hundreds of millions of dollars each year to increase the supply of affordable rental housing for families in need."

"This is really excellent news," added Senator Sanders. "It is no secret that over the past decade, incomes have not come close to keeping pace with the escalating costs of housing. At a time when millions of families are struggling to get by, and when many households are spending 50 percent or more of their limited income on housing, the Trust Fund will provide resources to build the affordable housing we desperately need and create thousands of good-paying jobs." Sanders first introduced Housing Trust Fund legislation in 2001 when he served in the House of Representatives.

To date, neither the NHTF nor the CMF have been consistently funded as intended. However, because FHFA has determined that the financial operations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have stabilized to a sufficient level, the FHFA has determined that they may now begin setting aside money for the affordable-rental housing funds.

Affordable rental housing has become scarce for extremely low-income households, defined as those who make no more than 30 percent of the median family income in their communities. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimated that in 2012 there were only 3.2 million rental housing units that were available and affordable for the 10.3 million extremely low-income rental households that need them.