Sponsors: Frank, Watt, Baker, and G. Miller of Calif.
Introduced by Frank on 9 March 07
Summary: This bill would reform the regulation of certain housing-related government-sponsored enterprises, and for other purposes.
Title I – Reform of regulation of enterprises and Federal Home Loan Banks
Subtitle A – Improvement of Safety and Soundness
Establishes the FHFA as an independent agency to regulate Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Federal Home Loan Banks. FHFA succeeds to the current authority of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) and Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB).
FHFA is headed by a director, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for a 5-year term. There are Deputy Directors for Divisions of Enterprise Regulation, Federal Home Loan Bank Regulation, and Housing.
A Federal Housing Enterprise Board comprising the Secretaries of the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, two presidential appointees, and the Director as Chairperson advises the Agency on overall strategies and policies, but has no executive authority. The agency alone annually assesses the regulated entities for FHFA’s reasonable costs and expenses.
The agency issues and enforces prudential management and operations standards for the regulated entities, including credit, interest rate, and market risks; internal controls, including information security and privacy, liquidity, and investments.
The agency may require a regulated entity to withhold compensation from an executive officer during a review of the reasonableness and comparability of compensation, and may take into consideration any wrongdoing by the officer.
The agency is given discretion to adjust risk-based capital requirements for the regulated entities to ensure that they operate in a safe and sound manner and maintain sufficient capital and reserves to support the risks of their operations.
The agency may increase the minimum capital levels for the regulated entities through regulation or, if there is a serious safety and soundness concern, temporarily through an order. The agency may also establish capital or reserve requirements with respect to particular programs or activities as the agency considers appropriate. The agency will periodically review the capital maintained by the regulated entities.
The agency establishes standards by which portfolio holdings and growth of the portfolio will be deemed consistent with mission and safety and soundness. In developing the standards, the agency considers factors relating to the size of market, liquidity, mission, risk, and other factors necessary to determine whether portfolio holdings are consistent with the mission of the enterprise as well as safe and sound operations of the enterprises. The agency reviews the assets and obligations of each enterprise and may require an enterprise to dispose of or acquire any asset or obligation for safety and soundness or mission-related reasons.
Subtitle B – Improvement of Mission Supervision
Program and housing goal oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (“enterprises”) is transferred from the Department of Housing and Development (HUD) to the new regulator.
The agency has the authority to approve new products. An enterprise may not offer a new product before obtaining the agency’s approval. The agency must act on a request within 30 days after providing a 30 day notice and comment period. A product may only be approved if it is authorized by law, in the public interest, consistent with safety and soundness of the enterprise and the mortgage finance system, and does not materially impair the efficiency of the mortgage finance system. An enterprise must provide the agency prior notice of new activities that are not new products. This does not restrict the Director’s general authority over all programs, activities, and products.
The legislation sets the conforming loan limits and requires the agency to adjust the conforming loan limit according to the annual housing price index maintained by the agency. An additional high-cost area limit is established for areas where the median home price exceeds the general conforming loan limit, up to the lower of 150 per cent of the conforming loan limit or the median cost in that area. Loans in high cost areas above the general conforming loan limit must be securitized. The regulator will conduct a study of whether the securitization requirement raises the cost to borrowers of high-cost area loans, and may terminate the requirement if it is found to raise costs.
The agency establishes affordable housing goals and an annual home purchase goal for the enterprises. The agency may take enforcement action against an enterprise for failure to meet the housing goals.
The bill creates an “Affordable Housing Fund,” to be managed by the new GSE regulator. Funds are derived through contributions by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in amounts equal to 1.2 basis points on each GSE’s total outstanding mortgages (including both those held in portfolio and those securitized) each year from 2007 through 2011. 75 percent of these funds are used for affordable housing fund purposes, and 25 percent are allocated to the federal government, to keep the bill deficit neutral.
In 2007, 75 percent of the funds go to Louisiana and 25 percent of the funds go to Mississippi for affordable housing needs arising out of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Thereafter, funds are allocated by formula to the states (including also D.C., federal territories, and federally recognized tribes). 100 percent of funds must be used for the benefit of very low and extremely low income families. Funds may be used for rental housing, homeownership and public infrastructure activities in conjunction with housing.
Title II – Federal Home Loan Banks
Federal Home Loan Bank boards of directors are decreased in size from 14 to 13 members. The cap on director compensation is lifted and the terms of directors are extended from 3 years to 4. The grandfather clause concerning numbers of member directors from each state is preserved.
The FHLBs are authorized to establish joint offices to perform functions on a collective basis. Joint offices, including the Office of Finance, are subject to the authority of the agency.
The Federal Home Loan Banks are exempt from some of the disclosures required under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
One or more FHLBs are permitted to merge with the approval of the boards of the FHLBs and the FHFA. The agency, in appointing independent directors to the boards of the FHLBs, will consider the demographic makeup of the communities most served by the AHPs of the FHLBs for whom directors are being appointed.
Government-insured depository institutions with assets less than $1 billion (currently $500 million) may use Federal Home Loan Bank advances for lending to community development activities (currently small business and agricultural purposes only) and use such secured loans as collateral for advances generally.
Detailed Summary of the Affordable Housing Fund:
The bill creates an “Affordable Housing Fund,” to be managed by the new GSE regulator [the “Director”]. Funds are derived through contributions by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in amounts equal to 1.2 basis points on each GSE’s total outstanding mortgages (including both those held in portfolio and those securitized) each year from 2007 through 2011. The program sunsets after five years. 75 percent of these funds are used for affordable housing fund purposes, and 25 percent are allocated to the federal government, to keep the bill deficit neutral.
75 percent of the affordable housing funds available in the first year will go to Louisiana and 25 percent of such funds will go to Mississippi for affordable housing needs arising out of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Thereafter, funds are allocated by formula to the states (including also D.C., federal territories, and federally recognized tribes). This formula is to be developed by HUD, and is to be based on a number of factors, including population, housing affordability, percentage of very and extremely low income families, cost of rehab, and extent of substandard and aging housing. If HUD fails to establish this formula on time, funds are distributed to states based on HOME allocations to states and Participation Jurisdictions.
100 percent of funds must be used for the benefit of very low and extremely low income families. Funds may be used for rental housing, homeownership [at least 10 percent of funds must be used by each state for this purpose], and public infrastructure activities in conjunction with housing [no more than 12.5 percent of funds in any state].
Affordable housing grants are to be made to eligible recipients, which can be any “organization, agency, or other entity (including a for-profit entity, a nonprofit entity, a federally recognized tribe, an Alaskan Native Village, or a faith-based organization)” that has a demonstrated experience and capacity to carry out the proposed fund use. Grantee funds may only be used for affordable uses and not for administrative costs. Each state allocates funds under its own Allocation Plan, to be based on priority housing needs in each state, and on criteria that include greatest impact, geographic diversity, ability to obligate funds in a timely manner, and the extent to which rental housing projects are affordable, especially for extremely low income families. Funds are redistributed from any state that does not obligate funds within 2 years.
Latest Major Action: May 24, 2007: Received in the Senate and read twice; referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.