The voices of Urban Institute's researchers and staff
May 10, 2016

How can we keep rent within reach for families?

May 10, 2016

When we launched our housing finance reform incubator in March, we wanted to offer a forum for thoughtful people outside of Urban’s Housing Finance Policy Center to discuss the future of housing finance. The first 10 essays primarily describe what a post–GSE conservatorship system might look like and how to structure it. But the discussion also brought to light two issues that call for further attention: How will the system address increasing rental housing demand? How can we assure that all creditworthy potential homeowners have access to affordable mortgage finance?

Why is rental housing so important?

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.

Some of the earlier essays in our incubator series discuss excessively tight access to credit for homeownership. The Great Recession hit minority families and communities hardest. Over the next 15 years, minority households will account for almost all new net homeownership demand, but these households have the least access to credit.

If those households, whose income and wealth are generally lower than white households, are locked out of homeownership, there will be significant social and economic consequences for the entire country.

Starting today, we’ll publish essays that focus on multifamily issues and on access and affordability. We’ve asked the following authors to share their views:

On multifamily:

  1. Ethan Handelman, vice president for policy and advocacy, National Housing Conference, and Shekar Narasimhan, managing partner, Beekman Advisors
  2. Michael Berman, principal, Michael Berman Consulting; former chairman, Mortgage Bankers Association; former senior adviser for housing finance to Secretary Shaun Donovan, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Mark Willis, senior policy fellow, NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy; former executive vice president, JPMorgan Chase
  3. Doug Bibby, president, National Multifamily Housing Council, and Robert DeWitt, chairman, National Multifamily Housing Council; vice chairman, president, and chief executive officer, GID

On access and affordability:

  1. Barry Zigas, director of housing policy, Consumer Federation of America; former senior vice president, Fannie Mae
  2. John Taylor, president and chief executive officer, National Community Reinvestment Coalition
  3. Edward Pinto, codirector, International Center on Housing Risk, American Enterprise Institute; former executive vice president and chief credit officer, Fannie Mae; former deputy executive director and general counsel, Michigan State Housing Development Authority
  4. Mike Calhoun, president, Center for Responsible Lending, and Martin Eakes, chief executive officer, Self-Help Credit Union
  5. Janet Murguia, president and chief executive officer, National Council of La Raza

We are looking forward to the second series of essays. You can follow the Housing Finance Reform Incubator, get updates from @MortgageLaurie on Twitter, and sign up to get our bimonthly newsletter for the latest on housing finance.

 

This Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 file photo shows a sign advertising a house for rent in Los Angeles. Photo by Richard Vogel/AP/File

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