Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla., recently issued the following statement on the latest actuarial review of the FHA mutual mortgage insurance fund:
"In light of the recent report, there will certainly be a discussion about altering the structure or role of the FHA. We would urge policymakers to proceed cautiously."
"The FHA was created during the Great Depression to promote stability in the housing marketplace and allow first-time buyers and middle class families to attain the dream of homeownership. Over the ensuing 78 years, the agency has successfully achieved its mission at no cost to taxpayers. The fact that the FHA finds itself in this position now, as opposed to four years ago during the height of the financial meltdown, is testament to its ability to meet its mission in these difficult economic times.
"While there is no doubt that the housing finance system needs to be reformed, the contributions that the FHA has made during this economic downturn underscore the need for a government backstop for both the primary and secondary mortgage markets. In times of crisis, private financial institutions have fled the marketplace and consistently failed to step up to the plate. Without government support for home purchasing and refinancing, the nation's mortgage markets will grind to a halt, throwing the economy back into recession.
"Given the significant role that housing plays in the economy, policymakers need to take a long-term, holistic approach to housing finance reform and carefully gauge how it affects other efforts under way to get the nation's fiscal house in order and achieve long-term economic growth."