In her first policy speech as Committee Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters addressed the government shutdown and the need to bring in a renewed focus on housing affordability issues.
"I am very pleased to be here with you today to discuss the new Congress and my priorities as Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee,” Waters said.
Waters is the first woman as well as the first African-American to lead the House Financial Services Committee. Voicing her concerns about the impact of the shutdown on important programs under the Financial Services Committee’s jurisdiction, she pointed out that it is “harming hardworking Americans and our financial markets."
"The shutdown also has a serious impact on critical housing programs. Ninety five percent of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) staff has been furloughed. Millions of families that rely on HUD rental assistance programs are perilously close to losing their homes due to projected lapses in funding,” she added.
Commenting on the ways in which the shutdown is harming American families and businesses, Waters called for an immediate end to it, urging the Republicans in Congress to join in the effort. Waters stated that one of the issues that will be looked at with a renewed focus to in the Financial Services Committee is housing. She noted that Congress needs to provide a surge of funding and resources to tackle the homelessness crisis to ensure that all Americans have access to safe, decent and affordable housing.
“I will soon be reintroducing my bill, the Ending Homelessness Act, which would help to ensure that every American has a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. The bill provides $13.27 billion in new funding over five years to federal programs and initiatives to prevent homelessness,” Waters said. Holding Committee hearings on homelessness and important housing issues will also be a part of the plan to elevate housing issues into a national discussion, and present proactive solutions and remedies, she indicated.
Speaking of GSEs, Waters reiterated the committee's responsibility to look at the housing finance system and address the fates of Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. She also advocated core principles as part of the legislative efforts to address the future of housing finance reform such as, maintaining access to the 30-year fixed rate mortgage; providing stability and liquidity to withstand future financial crisis; ensuring sufficient private capital to protect taxpayers, and ensuring a smooth transition to a new finance system.
She also emphasized the importance of maintaining access for all qualified borrowers that can sustain homeownership, and serving homeowners of the future and, ensuring access to affordable rental housing.
“It is particularly important to ensure that underserved borrowers and communities are not overlooked. This means housing finance reform will need to include a comprehensive strategy around access to affordable mortgage credit, as well as access to affordable rental housing. Another very important issue that I am going to continue to work on as Chairwoman is diversity and inclusion. As a nation, we are becoming increasingly diverse, racially and ethnically," she said.
Waters made it clear that her ongoing priority is ensuring a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and, strong financial regulation that protects consumers, investors, and the economy. She announced her agenda while speaking at the Center for American Progress.
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