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Congratulations, Mr. Watt — now lower the rent

Federal regulators urge funding for National Housing Trust Fund

Congratulations are in order for Mel Watt. He managed to secure his position as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. But before he can even finish putting his nameplate on the door, federal regulators are already filling up his to do list.

Senators Jack Reed, D-R.I., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Va., spearheaded an initiative to end the suspension of contributions to the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) and the Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) within all applicable laws, rules and regulations.

Thirty-three senators signed a letter to Watt urging him to lift the suspension.

A copy of the letter can be read here

The NHTF and CMF were created in 2008 to address the shortage of affordable rental housing.

However, neither has been consistently funded.

"The time is long overdue to lift the current suspension of contributions to the NHTF and CMF, and we ask for your full and fair consideration of our request," the letter stated.

While the senators are for reforming the government-sponsored enterprises, they want the government to get its bearings in order first.

"The affordable rental housing crisis that prompted Congress, on a bipartisan basis, to create the NHTF and CMF has only gotten worse in the last five years," the letter stated.  "Since passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act in 2008, the number of homes that are affordable to renters with incomes at or below 30 percent of area median income decreased by more than 1 million units." 

But this is not the first controversy rising over the NHTF.

In July 2013, the National Low Income Housing Coalition filed a lawsuit against previous FHFA Director Ed DeMarco for failing to uphold the GSE’s statutory duty to make contributions to the NHTF.

Watt has been sitting in the position for less than a month and this move would not even be his biggest.

The North Carolina congressman was sworn in on Jan. 6, and by Jan. 8, he had announced plans to delay increases to base guaranteed fees by 10 basis points.

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