David H. Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), launched a blistering attack at federal housing policy and warned that government ‘dysfunction’ would imperil the ability of Americans to achieve homeownership.
‘This dream is under attack,’ said Stevens in a speech during the MBA's Annual Convention in Chicago. ‘The American dream is in a fight for survival.’
Stevens gave the convention attendees a virtual tour of Washington's regulatory miasma, noting the contradictions and rival agendas of different agencies and departments within the federal government. As a prime example, he cited the significant differences between the servicing standards that emerged from February's National Mortgage Settlement and the proposed servicing standards from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
‘Dysfunction is alive and well for making housing policy,’ he said. ‘There are nine regulators [for housing policy], but they don't seem to talk to each other – and that's a problem.’
Stevens offered a solution to the current set-up by publicly calling on the White House to create a new office of Housing Policy Coordinator to direct the regulatory traffic.
‘This would be a traffic cop that helps make sure the rules complement each other and not conflict with each other,’ he said.
Stevens also urged for greater transparency in how the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) issue guidelines.
‘Fannie and Freddie can still implement policies as if they were still private companies,’ he continued. ‘They can literally rock our world overnight with policy changes. Having worked at a GSE, I can assure you they won't want this process [of transparency], but it has to occur.’
Stevens acknowledged that although the MBA has been able to arrange meetings with high-placed officials in the White House and on Capitol Hill, there are influential people in Washington that ‘still don't trust us.’ However, he added that ‘government policymakers cannot do it alone’ and that the industry's expertise was needed ‘to get it right.’ He promised that the trade group would continue to push for positive change.
‘We're on a mission, man!’ he added.