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Politics & Money

Housing industry reacts to Yellen’s confirmation

Senate votes 84-15 to confirm first woman secretary

Industry officials were quick to signal their support for yesterday’s historic U.S. Treasury Secretary confirmation of Janet Yellen, the 74-year-old who now holds the distinction of being the first female to hold the position in its 230-year history.

After a unanimous 26-0 vote from the Senate Finance Committee, the U.S. Senate voted 84-15 on Monday to approve Yellen, who will immediately get to work pushing President Joe Biden’s financial and economic agenda onto Capitol Hill.

Namely, Yellen will be a key proponent of Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which was announced earlier this month in response to worsening COVID-19 numbers and a still-struggling economy.

A number of senators congratulated Yellen on Twitter following the confirmation, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor that he was “looking forward to working together on pro-growth policies that can help rebuild the thriving economy for American workers that was in place just one year ago.”

For the housing industry, Yellen as Treasury Secretary represents a steady hand at the wheel in a deeply uncertain period. Several industry experts voiced support for the former head of the Federal Reserve, referencing her understanding of the key role the housing market plays in America’s economic growth.

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“[She] recognizes the societal benefits and wealth building opportunities that homeownership can bring, especially among minority households,” said Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist.

Bob Broeksmit, Mortgage Bankers Association president and chief economic advisor, said he was “heartened” by Yellen’s confirmation.

“Our members are focused on several key issues she will have the opportunity to address that will have a significant impact on our nation’s real estate finance market,” Broeksmit said. “Specifically, these include working with key stakeholders to support the implementation of effective rent and mortgage payment assistance and the expansion of minority homeownership.”

Jesse Van Tol, chief executive officer of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said Yellen is “an ally and friend who understands that America’s enduring socio-economic disparities in wealth and opportunity need to be addressed through shifts in public policy and private sector practices.

“It will be refreshing to have an administration and a Treasury secretary committed to working to create a more just economy,” Van Tol added. “With millions out of work, small businesses struggling to stay afloat, and a mortgage market that does not work for black and brown Americans, Yellen’s experience and expertise should help the Biden administration move quickly to put the country on track towards a just recovery.”

The National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions President Dan Berger said the NAFCU has a strong relationship with Yellen, dating back to a meeting they had at the Federal Reserve Board headquarters.

“The Treasury Department plays a key role in ensuring the American people get the economic relief they need to emerge from the pandemic better, stronger and financially sound,” Berger said. “We look forward to continuing our successful relationship with [Yellen] as credit unions remain critical to helping our nation overcome this disastrous pandemic.”

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