Saturday, March 2, 2013

New Vision for Housing Policy

This week a bipartisan commission of leading housing and economic experts unveiled a new vision for housing policy. If adopted, the plan will be to further our nation’s economic recovery and improve the lives of millions of Americans—then again, right now it’s only a plan. Six years after the collapse of the housing market, the underlying problems in housing remain, and government solutions continue to be elusive.  The commission hopes their “vision” will serve as a catalyst for action.
The recommendations propose scaling back the government role in the nation’s housing finance system and reforming housing assistance programs to better meet the needs of America’s most vulnerable households.
The report proposes a new housing finance system that calls for a far greater role for the private sector, a continued but limited role for the federal government, the elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and reform of the Federal Housing Administration to improve efficiency and avoid crowd-out of private capital.
Through these reforms, the plan addresses the broken mortgage finance system while creating a path to a stable and strong housing market designed to provide greater taxpayer protection and support a more vibrant economy.
At the core of this plan are the perceived needs that have gone unfilled. As demonstrated in the recent presidential election, profound demographic changes are transforming the country and our housing needs. The increasing diversity of the American population and it’s intrinsic economic issues, the aging of the Baby Boomers, and the formation of new households by millions of young Echo Boomers striking out on their own, all present new challenges.
The plan presented this week calls for reforms that would establish a new performance-based system for delivering federal rental assistance with greater devolution of responsibilities to state and local providers. The commission also proposes to shift existing resources to assist the poorest households, and to expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program to increase the supply of affordable rental housing.
For first-time home buyers, the report emphasizes the importance of housing counseling as a means of preparing for homeownership. The commission feels that “government knows best” and so offers recommendations for the young as well as proposals to enable seniors to “age in place” safely and affordably while integrating housing with health care and other programs. For the one-third of Americans who live in rural areas, the commission recommends continued support for homeownership and rental assistance in those communities.
To read the full report of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission, please visit
Dane Hahn is a real estate professional serving clients in Charlotte and Sarasota Counties. He can be reached at or by phone at 941-681-0312, or on the web at

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