Obama Administration Event to Focus on Future of Housing Finance Reform

The Obama Administration has announced a conference on Housing Finance Reform to happen in the upcoming month. On August 17, the “Conference on the Future of Housing Finance” will take place in Washington, D.C. at the Treasury Department. Yet again, the Administration invites the public to get involved in the future of the country’s housing finance system, expanding opportunities for public opinion on the matter.

An important topic of discussion will focus on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage-finance powerhouses seized by the U.S. Treasury in September 2008. The government is still managing the ongoing consequences of poor credit choices from bad loans made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the housing bubble from 2005 to 2007.

Last week, when President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank reform act but reform of the GSEs was not included. However, the legislation requires the Obama Administration to purpose a housing market reform method, including the GSEs, by the beginning of next year.

The Administration hopes to gain critical public input so it can continue to develop an complete housing finance reform proposal, set to be presented to Congress this upcoming January. The conference will engage “open discussion” about housing finance reform amongst leading academic experts, consumer and community organizations, industry groups, market participants, and other stakeholders.

“The Obama Administration is committed to delivering a comprehensive reform proposal that protects tax payers, institutes tough oversight, restores the long-term health of our housing market, and strengthens our nation’s economic recovery,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

This is not the first time the Obama Administration has attempted to develop reform proposals and engaged the public for help in doing so. In early 2010, Secretary Geithner and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan delivered testimony before Congress detailing the Administration’s continuing efforts on the topic and general ideas to lead this work forward.

In April, the Treasury and HUD issued a set of questions regarding the housing finance system’s future, asking for public response on a range of topics including opinions on what role the government should play in housing finance and thoughts on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The departments received over 300 responses via consumer groups, industry groups, think tanks, and members of the public.

Written by Kelly Mellott

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