Housing Finance Reform Incubator

With this incubator, the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center hopes to nurture a fresh, open-minded look at the future of the housing finance system. 

On this page, you will find short essays about the future of housing finance reform from authors who hold a wide spectrum of views. By inviting thoughtful people outside the Housing Finance Policy Center to join us in open-minded rethinking, we embrace the importance of open dialogue, listening to each other, and the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences.

These essays address the future housing finance system postconservatorship and explain how the authors think we could get there. The authors also address how the system they envision will serve underserved communities and households. 

When the series concludes, the essays and concluding remarks will be compiled in a single document

By bringing thoughtful voices together in a single forum, we hope to expand the debate and pave the way for new ideas.  We look forward to a compelling and game-changing discussion.

To stay abreast of this conversation, you can check this page each week. You can also follow @MortgageLaurie on Twitter or sign up here to get our bimonthly newsletter with links to all upcoming work.

Tim Howard: Fixing What Works

"When invented narrative is replaced with verifiable fact, Fannie and Freddie cease to be a 'failed business model' that must be wound down and replaced; they instead become valuable resources that must be built upon and improved."

Alex J. Pollock: Seven Steps to Housing Finance Reform

"At the 10% Moment, Congress should declare the senior preferred stock fully retired, as in financial substance it will have been. Simultaneously, Congress should formally designate Fannie and Freddie as systematically important financial institutions."

James H. Carr: America Needs a 21st-Century Housing Finance System

"The basic pillars of America’s housing finance system were enacted 80 years ago. Since then, major reconfigurations in our economy, demographic composition, and household locational preferences demand a bolder vision for housing finance in the 21st century."

Mark Calabria: Coming Full Circle on Mortgage Finance

“Mortgages, under any system, have to rest on someone’s balance sheet. Like water running downhill, the risk has flowed to the most leveraged sectors of our financial system. This is a recipe for instability.”

Patricia Mosser: Principles–and a solution–for GSE reform

“The characteristics of mutuals that may be seen as disadvantages for some types of financial companies are in fact advantages for our financial market utility proposal because they align the utility’s incentives with other actors in the securitization chain.”

Marc Morial: The Homebuyers' Bill of Rights 2.0

“In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the tragic loss of wealth, and the bailout of the big banks, our national government must continue to play a central role in the housing market to right previous wrongs, ensure access to all qualified borrowers, and keep the housing finance system afloat for future generations.” 

Laurie Goodman: How Can We Keep Rent within Reach for Families?

"Between now and 2030, this country will face an unprecedented surge in rental housing demand. Already, rents are skyrocketing out of the reach for many families, especially in places with job opportunities. New multifamily housing construction is at its highest level since the 1986 Tax Reform Act, but most of the units are high end, which limits affordability."

Doug Bibby and Bob DeWitt: Rebuilding Housing Finance on a Strong Foundation

"Consensus exists that a reformed housing finance system must protect taxpayers, emphasize the private markets, support a broad variety of housing options and remain liquid throughout an economic cycle. Surprisingly, few recognize that a proven model already exists that meets those objectives-and it's the multifamily programs of Fannie and Freddie."

Barry Zigas: Achieving Access and Affordability in Mortgage Finance

"Mortgage finance reform discussions have failed to generate consensus assuring the widest possible access to sustainable mortgage credit at the lowest practical cost. We can resolve this impasse if we integrate all federal supports for mortgage finance into one cohesive whole."

Edward J. Pinto: It's Time to Put the Market Back in Housing Finance

"Today’s government-centric housing finance system is an “economics free zone” indifferent to supply and demand. Composed of an alphabet soup of agencies, this system has fostered a massive liberalization of mortgage terms and provided countless trillions of dollars in lending. Yet housing has become less, not more affordable or accessible."