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FHA Commissioner Carol Galante to step down

Industry applauds her positive impact on housing

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Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Carol Galante announced her decision to leave the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development along with her role as assistant secretary for housing toward the end of this year in a memo to staff Monday morning.

In January, Galante will assume the I. Don Terner Distinguished Professorship in Affordable Housing at the University of California, Berkeley, where she will also serve as the Director of the Berkeley Program in Housing and Urban Policy and co-chair the Fisher Center on Real Estate Policy Advisory Board.

“This is a compelling opportunity for me to continue with work I am passionate about and also return home to California,” she said.

When she started the administration as the deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing, America was still recovering from the economic crisis and the market was far from stable.

Several years later along with more regulation and oversight, Galante stated, “We have helped our housing market come back. Homeowners’ equity is now over $10 trillion, foreclosure starts are at their lowest levels since 2005, and American families are on pace to purchase over 5 million homes this year alone. Every area of the Office of Housing stepped up to the challenges of meeting the extraordinary needs during this critical time.”

But the impacts of Galante’s departure will be felt further than just the walls of the FHA. “Her departure will be a great loss for the industry as well as to HUD.  Carol was a tremendous asset to both in very difficult times,” David Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association and former commissioner of the FHA before Commissioner, said.

“Since assuming her current role as FHA Commissioner, she has worked tirelessly on the critical reforms to further strengthen FHA’s risk management that have helped restore the financial health of the MMI fund,” he added. 

As soon as news spread, the chief economist of Zillow, Stan Humphries, also took to Twitter to share his thoughts.

After the crisis, Galante helped spearhead a lot of initiative to get the market on track, including revamping its loss-mitigation programs and revising the FHA’s automatic underwriting program.

“I have definitely been making the rounds with some of the folks on the House and on the Senate (committees),” she said during a exclusive magazine profile with HousingWire in May 2013. “The job can be stressful,” Galante admitted during our conversation. “It’s fast-paced — a lot of balls to juggle — but I’ve said this a lot of times in my career, not just here. I am happiest when I have a lot of balls in the air. That means I’m very happy at the moment.”

Whatever happens, Galante said she felt good about the historic agency, its future, its reforms to date and the team running things.

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