Craig Phillips, counselor to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, on Tuesday updated NAFCU Congressional Caucus attendees on the administration's focus in addressing housing finance reform and on ensuring regulation does not impede credit unions' and others' ability to grow and strengthen the nation's economy.
Phillips said Treasury recognizes the critical role of housing finance, and particularly the importance of preserving a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. "Our goal is to work with Congress [to achieve] comprehensive housing reform," he said. That overarching reform effort also needs to address bringing the government-sponsored enterprises (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) out of conservatorship as part of a long-term housing strategy, he said.
In other comments, Phillips said policymakers have learned more about credit unions' critical role in the consumer financial services arena in recent years. He applauded credit unions' work in their communities to ensure consumers and small businesses get the credit they need, noting particularly the industry's efforts during the financial crisis.
Helping credit unions and others do more of this work is among the objectives of the administration's "core principles" on financial regulation, he said.
Later in the morning, Adolfo Marzol, senior advisor for housing at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, discussed HUD's involvement in hurricane response efforts and specific loan programs of interest to credit unions.
He said HUD is working with other agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to get help to the people affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The agency is focused on getting people into safer housing and on ensuring funding to help with the rehabilitation, repair and restoration of people's homes; and forbearance on mortgage payments.
Marzol also discussed improvements being made in the FHA's reverse mortgage program to rein in risk to the FHA insurance fund and to seniors of depleting home equity too quickly; and on PACE loans, which he said the department knows have been a source of confusion for consumers and increased risk to mortgage lenders.