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NAA and NMHC Officers Meet with FHFA Director Watt and Key Staff

FHFA Director Watt and Key Staff

NAA and NMHC officers met with Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt and key members of his team on Oct. 15 to stress the critical role multifamily plays in meeting the nation’s housing needs. Representatives included NMHC’s Vice Chairman Bob Dewitt, Treasurer Sue Ansel and NAA Treasurer Cindy Clare.

Participants discussed the state of the multifamily market overall as well as some specific challenges faced by the industry. These included meeting demand in the face of supply issues as well as the lack of income growth for renters as operational costs continue to rise. The related issue of lack of income growth for renters was also discussed. Industry participants also stressed the important role that the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have played in ensuring the financing needs of the apartment industry across all economic cycles and in all geographic markets.  

FHFA staff asked what could be done to help better meet the needs of the apartment industry and address the shortage of affordable housing. NAA and NMHC representatives emphasized the need to free up supply impediments, to focus more on tools to preserve the aging housing stock, and identifying ways to refinance long-term, high interest Low-Income Housing Tax Credit loans.

FHFA has recently requested input from stakeholders on a variety of topics, providing the apartment industry further opportunity to weigh in with the agency. The FHFA Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2015-2019 was released for public input on Aug. 15 and included language supporting the GSEs’ participation in multifamily. NAA and NMHC submitted comments on Sept. 15 commending FHFA for acknowledging the importance of multifamily housing and the role the GSEs play in our market.     

On Aug. 29, FHFA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register detailing housing goals for the GSEs from 2015-2017, including multifamily goals for low-income, very low-income and small properties, defined as 5 to 50 units. NAA and NMHC will submit comments on the proposed rule, encouraging FHFA to avoid arbitrary or harmful restrictions on market activity for the GSEs, and to focus on addressing market needs for all product types in all markets.

Provided by NMHC as part of the NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Program