Regarding the June 4 editorial “A financial zombie”:
The policy choice we face is simple: Either turn over the securitization and mortgage markets for government-guaranteed mortgage loans to the banking and securities conglomerates that engineered the subprime mortgage crisis or maximize mortgage choices for consumers through a competitive market in which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac serve all mortgage originators.
The Community Home Lenders Association, which represents small and midsize non-bank lenders, is fighting to retain and reform Fannie and Freddie so fixed-rate mortgages and homeownership remain a reality for all Americans. The charge of returning to a “private-gain, public-risk” model serves only as a smokescreen for those who support a big-bank-controlled mortgage market with Fannie and Freddie “dead.” The CHLA and others, including consumer and affordable-housing groups, put forth ideas to retain these important players and protect taxpayers through risk-sharing, a capital buffer and other reforms. We urge the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Congress to support these ideas.
Scott Olson, Arlington
The writer is executive director of the Community Home Lenders Association.
The editorial board mischaracterized the motivations of low-income-housing advocates, such as the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, for advocating the preservation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The NCRC’s only allegiance is to the working families and underserved neighborhoods across the country that could be harmed by a new housing-finance system that may not contain a public mission or affordable-housing goals as do Fannie and Freddie.
We do not, as the piece suggested, see “a resurrected Fan-Fred as a potential source of funds.” We see in the preservation of Fannie and Freddie the best option for working communities for ensuring that responsible homeownership opportunities exist for creditworthy working people. Who would be the likely beneficiaries of a reconstituted housing-finance system based on the reform proposals that have gained traction to date? Wall Street banks and insurance companies — institutions that have long clamored for the Fannie-Freddie line of business but are among the last that should be entrusted with such an important role in the housing market.
We are at a nearly 50-year low in homeownership. Homeownership is the single biggest mechanism for working people to build wealth. It’s critical for families working their way up the economic ladder. To eliminate Fannie and Freddie, which have proven records of creating access to responsible loans for most of their history, would be a serious mistake.
John Taylor, Washington
The writer is president and chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.