PROJECTHousing Finance Reform Incubator

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

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.

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 Narasimhanmanaging 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 Bibbypresident, 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 Sarah Wolff, senior researcher, Center for Responsible Lending

  5. Debra Still and Rodrigo Lopez

  6. 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.


A photo of Laurie Goodman. Dark hair, glasses, bright smile.
"It is time for an open-minded look at the housing finance system and what role, if any, today’s government-sponsored enterprises might play in the future."
Tim Howard
"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."
A photo of Jim Millstein. White hair, slight smile, suit and tie.
"To address the conflict between their affordability mission and shareholder returns, the mortgage guaranty businesses should be subjected to utility-like regulation, with strict activity, leverage, and return on equity limitations."
A photo of Alex Pollock. Slight smile, suit and tie.
"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.
A photo of Mark Zandi. Slight smile, suit, brown hair.
"A group of us has put forward a reform proposal that addresses the system's structural problems and keeps what works."
A photo of James Carr. Severe smile, suit, dark hair.
"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."
A photo of Andrew Davidson. Slgiht smile, greying hair, glasses.
"A realistic approach to GSE reform is to strip the GSEs down to the functions that promote standardization, liquidity, and access to credit, and adopt the best governance structures for those functions. This can be achieved in four steps: streamline, share risk, wrap, and mutualize."
A photo of Mark Calabria. Slight smile, suit, dark hair, glasses.
“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.”
A photo of Patricia Mosser. Dark hair, glasses, bright smile.
“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.”
A photo of Marc Morial. Big smile, suit, dark hair.
“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 ...
A photo of Laurie Goodman. Dark hair, glasses, bright smile.
"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 Refo...
A photo of three individuals. All three are smiling, have suits, ties, and dark hair.
"There will be nuanced demands coming from the high concentration of household formation in African American, Asian, and Hispanic communities. Ginnie Mae 2.0 looks to be the safest way to build a sustainable platform to bring proven market stability to meet the needs of a materially changing demo...
A photo of two individuals. Both are smiling, have suits, ties, and glasses.
“The most critical need for multifamily is simply that policymakers pay attention to it early and plan ahead.
A photo of two individuals. Both are smiling, have suits, ties, and glasses.
We propose a spinoff of the multifamily business units of the GSEs and the formation of other new guarantors to increase access to affordable multifamily financing.
A photo of two individuals. Both are smiling, have suits, and ties.
"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...
A photo of Jim Millstein outside. Dark hair, big smile, suit and tie, glasses.
"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."
A photo of Pinto. White hair, glasses, slight smile, suit.
"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 be...
A photo of Taylor. White hair, suit.
"Much of the conversation on Capitol Hill and among policy thinkers has pushed affordability and access to the back burner. We need to bring it to the forefront of the conversation. The shape and quality of housing finance reform will have repercussions in every neighborhood and community and for...
Mike Calhoun and Sarah Wolff
"Average price estimates obscure significant variation. To assess access and affordability, we need to look closely at differential prices, not just overall prices or prices for low–credit risk profiles."
Rodrigo Lopez and Debra Still
"We believe that all housing needs, from the most directly-subsidized, affordable rental housing to the prime jumbo single-family lending market, lie along a single continuum. This housing continuum can be best served only by addressing single-family and multifamily, rental and homeownership, gov...
Janet Murguía
"By 2020 half of all first-time homebuyers will be Latino. Without affordable access to credit for these prospective buyers, the housing market will decline, with harmful consequences on the larger economy."
Jim Parrott
"Coming out of the crisis, there was thus almost universal agreement that we should reduce our reliance on this duopoly and shift more risk into a competitive private market."
row of houses rendering
Research Areas Housing finance
Policy Centers Housing Finance Policy Center