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Housing

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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.

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Comment Letter on the CFPB's HMDA Mortgage Data Proposal (Document)
Ellen Seidman, Laurie Goodman, Wei Li, Carlos Martin, Jim Parrott, Kathryn L.S. Pettit, Peter A. Tatian

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) comprehensive proposal to improve mortgage data collection under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), released in July, 2014, is a critical first step to enhance public understanding of the mortgage market. A group of Urban Institute researchers clarifies the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal, makes suggestions for improvements, and urges fast action by the agency in this comment letter submitted to the CFPB in October, 2014.

Posted to Web: October 20, 2014Publication Date: October 20, 2014

Assessing the Proposed Housing Goals (Commentary)
Jim Parrott, Laurie Goodman, Wei Li, Ellen Seidman, Jun Zhu

By establishing annual housing goals for mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seeks to encourage lending to creditworthy borrowers with low incomes and those in traditionally underserved communities. Setting these goals requires FHFA to walk a fine line to meaningfully expand lending to all qualified applicants without encouraging lending to borrowers who cannot sustain mortgage payments. This commentary critiques the goals proposed by FHFA for 2015 - 2017, examining three central issues: How do the goals interact with other policy issues; Should the FHFA apply both benchmark (prospective) and market (retrospective) goals; and Did the FHFA set its benchmark goals appropriately?

Posted to Web: October 20, 2014Publication Date: October 20, 2014

The $300 Billion Question: How Should We Budget for Federal Lending Programs? (Research Report)
Donald Marron

Student loans, mortgage guarantees, and other lending programs create special challenges for federal budgeting. Under official budget rules, these programs are projected to bring in $200 billion over the next decade. Under an alternative, favored by many analysts, they appear to lose $100 billion. That $300 billion disparity confuses policy deliberations. In this report, Donald Marron proposes a new budgeting approach, known as expected returns, that would eliminate this confusion. The report critically reviews today’s budgeting approaches, identifies their flaws, and demonstrates how expected returns would improve budgeting for federal lending.

Posted to Web: September 29, 2014Publication Date: September 29, 2014

A Better Way to Budget for Federal Lending Programs (Policy Briefs)
Donald Marron

Policy analysts have long debated how best to budget for student loans, mortgage guarantees, and other federal lending programs. Under official budget rules, these programs appear highly profitable; under an alternative, favored by many analysts, they appear to lose money. That discrepancy confuses policy deliberations. In this brief, Donald Marron proposes a new budgeting approach, known as expected returns, that would eliminate this confusion. Unlike existing approaches, expected returns accurately reports the fiscal effects of lending over time and provides a natural way to distinguish the fiscal gains from bearing financial risk from the subsidies given to borrowers.

Posted to Web: September 29, 2014Publication Date: September 29, 2014

What Happens to Housing Assistance Leavers? (Research Report)
Robin E. Smith, Susan J. Popkin, Taz George, Jennifer Comey

To assess whether federal housing assistance can encourage asset building and self-sufficiency, we need to know why families leave housing assistance and how they fare on their own. As a group, housing assistance leavers appear to be doing better than those still in public housing or receiving rent subsidies; they have higher incomes, are more likely to be married, and live in lower-poverty, safer communities. Dividing the unassisted highlights how those leaving assistance for negative reasons are worse off and how those leaving for positive reasons are struggling. Such findings suggest the need for targeted approaches to support both groups.

Posted to Web: September 22, 2014Publication Date: September 22, 2014

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