June 17, 2014

Castro, in hearing, talks housing finance reform

June 18, 2014 – During a hearing Tuesday on his nomination to be Housing and Urban Development Secretary, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro told the Senate Banking Committee he shares the panel's goals of protecting taxpayers and continuing access to mortgage credit in housing finance reform.

Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, asked Castro if he would help push for action on the committee-approved Johnson-Crapo reform bill if he was confirmed to HUD. Castro didn't answer that directly but said he shares in the committee's concerns about housing finance reform.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., asked Castro if taxpayers can be protected without reforms to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Castro said taxpayers need to be more protected than they are now and reiterated that the government-sponsored enterprises' current situation is unsustainable. He added there needs to be private capital in the first-loss position.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., asked about the use of eminent domain to address foreclosures. Castro responded that his city San Antonio has never tried to use eminent domain to address the issue.

In his opening statement, Castro stressed that if confirmed to HUD, he would work with various agencies to improve the housing sector and continue current HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan's work in measuring the department's investments by the impact they make in the industry.

Tuesday's hearing also included testimony from Laura Wertheimer, nominated to be inspector general at the Federal Housing Finance Agency.