President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced his intent to nominate Mark Calabria – who currently serves as chief economist for Vice President Mike Pence – to replace Mel Watt as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
Calabria has extensive experience dealing with housing policy. Previously, he served as a senior aide on the Senate Banking Committee, where he was one of the main architects of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which established the FHFA.
He also served as deputy assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during former President George W. Bush’s administration.
In addition, Calabria has held positions at the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders and Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
Watt – who recently faced allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace – is set to depart the agency in January.
Having Calabria at the helm of the FHFA increases the likelihood that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be taken out of conservatorship. As Pence’s economist, he has called for the end of the government’s control of the companies which began in 2008.
Calabria’s nomination is expected to sail through the Republican-controlled Senate.
In a statement, Robert D. Broeksmit, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) says Calabria “has a deep background in housing finance issues and we have enjoyed a good working relationship with him in his current and past roles.”
“We look forward to working with him on a wide variety of housing finance issues, not the least of which is resolving the now-decade long conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a way that best serves borrowers, protects taxpayers and ensures equal access to stable and liquid secondary mortgage markets for a wide variety of single- and multifamily lenders, regardless of size or business model,” Broeksmit says.
Dan Berger, president and CEO of the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions, says Calabria “possesses a unique combination of policy, regulatory and housing expertise, and his nomination to lead the FHFA is well deserved.”
“If confirmed by the Senate, NAFCU looks forward to working closely with Mr. Calabria to ensure a healthy, sustainable and viable secondary mortgage market,” Berger says. “In our numerous meetings with Mr. Calabria, it is clear he has a firm understanding of credit union issues and of the important role the GSEs play in their mission.”