Urban Institute researchers monitor and assess housing market trends, affordable housing, homelessness, federal housing assistance, racial disparities and housing discrimination, and community revitalization. We recommended greater regulation and reforms for subprime mortgages before the housing market collapse and continue to follow its effects on families and neighborhoods. Our research informs decisionmakers with neighborhood-level data and evaluations of federal housing programs. Read more.
Over the past several years, a consensus has developed on the goals of GSE Reform: preserve the liquidity of the mortgage market while protecting the taxpayer by putting private capital in a first loss position, retain wide access to long-term fixed rate mortgages, provide access and equity for lenders of all sizes, and support affordable housing. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) released new draft legislation in March 2014 striving to achieve these goals. While this bipartisan proposal is a major step forward for housing finance reform, we suggest improvements in two critical areas: the structure of the private capital in the first loss position and the affordable housing incentive fee provisions. In both cases, the system as proposed has intellectual appeal, but is apt to have unintended and undesirable consequences.
In early 2012, the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers entered into a $25 billion settlement with the Department of Justice, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and 49 state Attorney Generals. This settlement, which addresses questionable servicing practices, was the largest joint state-federal civil settlement in US history. As a result, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Rescap/Ally and Wells Fargo have since dispersed more than $50 billion in gross relief to over 600,000 families. In this commentary, we examine each servicer’s strategies in providing relief to borrowers, consider how those actions were impacted by the settlement's crediting system, and suggest improvements for future settlements.
At A Glance, the Housing Finance Policy Center's monthly chartbook, provides timely metrics on the state of the housing market and examines public policy's role in housing finance. April's issue includes a special quarterly feature on GSE loan performance and new numbers on the Federal Reserve's activity in the mortgage market.
Early in 2014, Ocwen Loan Servicing, the nation’s largest nonbank mortgage servicer, completed a new type of quasi-securitization to help Ocwen fund its servicing business, which has grown as mortgage servicing has shifted from depository institutions to nonbanks. This shift has occurred in response to Basel III regulations, which make it more costly than in the past for large banks to hold mortgage servicing rights. In this commentary, we describe the changing mortgage servicing market and the reasons for those changes. We then look at Ocwen’s new security, its purpose, and its appeal to investors.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, the Department of Housing and Urban Development sponsored two major experiments to test whether housing choice vouchers propelled low-income households into greater economic security, the Moving to Opportunity for Fair Housing program (MTO) and the Welfare to Work Voucher program (WTW). Using data from these programs, this study examines differences in residential location and employment outcomes between voucher recipients with access to automobiles and those without. Overall, the findings underscore the positive role of automobiles in outcomes for housing voucher participants.