David Dworkin on affordable housing and delaying QM rule
This week, HousingWire’s Editor in Chief Sarah Wheeler interviews David Dworkin, president and CEO at National Housing Conference. In this episode, Dworkin discusses how the NHC thinks about affordable housing and which federal policies could improve Black homeownership.
Additionally, Dworkin addresses a recent decision by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to delay the final QM rule and how that might have unintended consequences for affordable housing and some of the consumers the bureau is attempting to help.
Here is a small preview of the interview, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity:
Sarah Wheeler: The National Housing Conference is the oldest coalition of affordable housing leaders in America. But I think the term affordable housing can mean different things depending on the context. How does the National Housing Conference think about affordable housing?
David Dworkin: Well, it’s evolved over time. When we were founded by Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch, who was a social worker in New York City, our focus was on government investment in building public affordable housing to replace horrific slums in New York and around the country. And you know, when we talk about slums and substandard housing, we’re talking about 10-story walk-up tenements, with no running water or electricity, and an outhouse in the alley. So, half of the population of New York in 1931 was living in housing similar to that. What we found is that there wasn’t a great deal of interest, especially at the beginning of the Great Depression, to focus on those housing needs. So, we partnered with home builders and labor unions and became the unlikely coalition. Our slogan was “housing as jobs and jobs as housing.” That’s been a common thread through our entire 90 years, but more recently, I think you would better describe our focus as housing affordability. All housing is affordable to someone, I guess, unless you’re homeless, but the reality is, most people cannot afford the housing they need where they need it. And this is true up and down the income scale. I think there are a lot of upper-middle-class people in this country who have children who have gotten jobs in thriving communities and can’t find a place to live. I think we all know about the millennials sleeping in their bedroom that they grew up in, and while we see that with people of higher income, the situation is really bleak the further down the income scale you go. And ultimately, what we end up with is housing prices are too high, economic pressure is growing, and we have hundreds of thousands of people who are homeless today, the highest in recent history. That’s just unacceptable.
The Housing News podcast explores the most important topics happening in mortgage, real estate, and fintech. Each week a new mortgage or real estate executive joins the show to add perspective to the top stories crossing HousingWire’s news desk. Hosted by Sarah Wheeler and produced by Alcynna Lloyd.