Reverse mortgage professionals react to resignation of HUD Secretary Fudge

The HUD secretary announced on Monday that she would resign effective March 22

Members of the reverse mortgage industry were surprised to learn that U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge announced on Monday that she would be resigning from her post effective March 22. HUD deputy secretary Adrianne Todman will serve as acting HUD secretary at that point, according to the White House.

Marcia Fudge, 18th secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), who served under President Joe Biden.
Marcia Fudge

Fudge did not give a specific, overarching reason for her decision to resign, which comes roughly 10 months before the expiration of President Joe Biden’s term in office and less than eight months before the next presidential election. But she did explain that she’s looking forward to returning to the life of a private citizen, and suggested that she never intends to run for office again.

Fudge’s HUD has been a key player in the Biden administration’s actions related to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program. During her time in office, HUD officials have been open about their desires to make the program more efficient, including the final publication of the HECM section of the Single Family Housing 4000.1 Handbook that was a product of years of work.

Fudge oversaw three submissions of the agency’s Annual Report to Congress, which reported positivity in the Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund’s HECM portfolio each time. When the portfolio hit positive territory in 2021, it marked the first time it had reached the threshold since 2015.

Steve Irwin, president of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA).
Steve Irwin

RMD reached out to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) for a reaction to the news of Fudge’s resignation. Its president, Steve Irwin, said he was surprised to hear the news.

“In reflecting on Secretary Fudge’s tenure, I am grateful for her steady support of the HECM program,” Irwin said. “I know that the team at HUD is resource-constrained, yet under Secretary Fudge’s leadership they managed to publish an updated HECM handbook, publish updated HECM counseling protocols, and issue a series of HECM servicing policy changes to improve the financial stability and performance of the HECM program.”

Irwin also credited reverse mortgage developments at Ginnie Mae during Fudge’s leadership tenure. These include “critically important updates to its HMBS program with adjustments to the minimum pooling size and pooling requirements under the leadership of Secretary Fudge,” he said.

“While we know that there remains work to be done in the HECM space, I recognize Secretary Fudge has been a tireless housing advocate and a supporter of the HECM program. She will be missed.”

Scott Norman, VP of field retail and director of government relations at Finance of America Reverse (FAR), and co-chair of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA).
Scott Norman

Scott Norman, a NRMLA co-chair and vice president at Finance of America Reverse (FAR), also thanked Fudge for her service.

“We applaud Secretary Fudge’s efforts and thank her for the support she showed to the HECM industry throughout her time at HUD,” Norman said. “Looking ahead, we will move forward with business as usual, and we believe the close working relationship we have within the department will continue to be both strong and transparent.”

Norman cited the working relationship the association maintains with both the commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the president of Ginnie Mae, both of whom spoke at NRMLA’s Annual Meeting and Expo last year in Nashville.

“Commissioner Julia Gordon and President Alanna McCargo have been strong stewards of the HECM program, as shown by their efforts to improve the program over the last few years.,” Norman said.

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