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BPC Expands Efforts to Housing Policy

In the nearly five years since we launched the Bipartisan Policy Center, we’ve worked to develop actionable solutions for a range of policy issues. Today, we’re pleased to expand our efforts to consider the role of the federal government in housing policy. BPC’s new Housing Commission will be informed by ongoing BPC projects from deficit reduction and energy policy to transportation infrastructure and health care.

We launch our latest initiative at a time when leaders on both side of the aisle, in the executive and legislative branches, have begun releasing proposals to reform the existing housing finance market. On Monday, the President announced that the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) will change the terms of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). This effort would enable homeowners to refinance their homes at lower mortgage rates, regardless of the depreciation on their house’s value. The role of the federal government in the housing market is of interest to Republicans as well. Earlier this year, in their budget proposal, House Republicans called for several substantive changes to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac designed to bring transparency and accountability to Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs).

We are fortunate to have recruited four knowledgeable and talented Chairmen to lead this project. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretaries – Henry Cisneros and Mel Martinez bring us a wealth of knowledge about housing policy and the Congress. Senator Kit Bond played a major role in shaping housing policy at the federal and state levels during his many years of service as representative, governor and senator from Missouri. And former Senator Majority Leader George Mitchell brings a unique perspective having been involved in the creation of legislation establishing the low income tax credit and serving as a problem solver in the Senate and around the globe. We are also proud that Senator Mitchell is one of BPC’s founders.

In addition, we are delighted to introduce Pam Patenaude as BPC’s Director of Housing Policy. Pam brings a powerful combination of public and private sector experience, and a wide breadth of expertise to this new role. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing at the Urban Land Institute, held senior roles at HUD, and worked in the homebuilding industry. There are few professionals who can match Pam’s understanding of the complex forces driving the housing market and challenges and opportunities they present.

Housing is an immediate and tangible concern for every American, representing the place where we sleep at night and frequently the greatest component of our personal wealth. As the recent financial crisis has made clear, housing is a key driver of the nation’s overall fiscal health. No full recovery will be complete without the reinvigoration of the housing market.

The task set before this Housing Commission is an ambitious one, but one which can be fulfilled through a reasoned and rigorous approach. We look forward to the recommendations they will develop over the coming year.

Read more from the Housing Commission Blog here.

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