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Waters Praises Castro for FHA Premium Reductions

At today’s Full Committee hearing on the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, praised Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro for his recent decision to lower FHA premiums. Over the next three years, the decision will provide an average of $900 in annual savings for approximately 2 million future homeowners and extend the possibility of homeownership to another 250,000 hardworking Americans currently shut out of the housing market.

She made the following statement, which can be found online here.

“Thank you Mr. Chairman. And welcome Secretary Castro.

Today, this Committee will review the Federal Housing Administration – an entity that has provided opportunity to over 34 million first-time, low-income homebuyers over the past 80 years.

Secretary Castro, I’m pleased this Committee is holding this hearing today, because it gives me an opportunity to publically thank you – and President Obama – for responding to the calls of a wide array of advocates, interest groups, lawmakers and civil rights organizations in acting to reduce FHA’s annual mortgage insurance premiums.

Groups ranging from the National Association of Realtors and the Mortgage Bankers Association to the NAACP and the National Low Income Housing Coalition have joined with lawmakers in both the House and Senate – including myself and Rep. Capuano – to urge the important action you took in January.

Your decision enjoys such broad support because providing this much-needed mortgage relief will deliver critical assistance to millions of families looking to purchase a home – and enable countless others to save millions of dollars in mortgage payments over the years to come.

Secretary Castro, although today you will likely take a fair amount of criticism from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle for your decision, I’d like to take a moment to remind them that when the private sector virtually left our struggling housing market during the worst of the crisis, the FHA stepped up and provided the liquidity that kept it afloat. Despite the steps toward recovery the economy has taken since then, the housing sector continues to suffer from a tight lending environment – and a strong FHA is still very necessary.

I would also note that FHA is far from bankrupt, holding approximately $40 billion in reserves, continuing to generate revenue, and taking critical steps to recover its capital reserves, which are projected to show a positive balance in 2015.

So secretary Castro, I thank you for your efforts, and encourage you to continue working to expand access to credit to more low-to-moderate income and minority families.

I yield back the balance of my time.”


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