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Waters: It Must be a Top Priority for This Committee to Improve the State of Housing in This Country

Washington, DC, July 24, 2018

Today, at a House Financial Services Committee markup of seven bills, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, gave the following opening statement:

As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Chairman, let me just say that I was encouraged by our bipartisan agreement on the JOBS Act 3.0 package, and the resulting House passage of the bill with overwhelming support last week. The JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018 is evidence that we can come together to advance commonsense solutions that will benefit our nation’s small businesses and investors.

This Committee should now focus on helping to improve the housing situation in this country.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is no state, metro area, or county in which a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage can afford a two bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40 hour week.

While I see that we will be considering three housing bills today, these bills will not improve housing in this country and will instead either reduce protections for mortgage borrowers or contribute to increasing the rates of homelessness or unstably housed persons.

For example, H.R. 2570 undermines the limitations on points and fees for mortgages established under the Consumer Bureau’s qualified mortgage rule. This bill would make it easier for lenders to steer homebuyers into high-cost, abusive terms on some mortgages, notably home equity lines of credit, where yield spread premiums have not been prohibited. This bill would bring American borrowers back to the very kinds of abusive lending practices that contributed to the subprime meltdown and the ensuing foreclosure crisis.

A second bill slated for consideration today, H.R. 2069, has the worthy goal of providing housing assistance for foster youth aging out of care, but the bill provides no increased funding to provide that assistance, and instead tells hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting for assistance – including veterans, persons experiencing homelessness, families with children, and victims of domestic violence – that they have to wait a little longer. The bill also imposes harmful and counterproductive work requirements on foster youth who receive housing through the federal preference established in this bill.

A third bill, H.R. 1511, expands the definition of homelessness for HUD homelessness programs to include over 4 million additional people without providing any additional funding to support the expansion. Mr. Chairman, as I have said at Committee proceedings many times, we need to dedicate real funding and resources to tackle the homelessness crisis. Over half a million people in this country are experiencing homelessness, and Congress has a duty to help them.

That’s why last year I introduced H.R. 2076, the Ending Homelessness Act of 2017, which would provide $13.27 billion in new funding over five years to federal programs and initiatives to prevent homelessness. Mr. Chairman, this Committee should be considering bills such as the Ending Homelessness Act and other Democratic bills to help vulnerable families and hardworking Americans.

As a nation we are in the midst of a housing affordability crisis and a homelessness crisis. It simply must be a top priority for this Committee to improve the state of housing in this country and tackle homelessness and shifting funding to help some people instead of others and undermining borrower protections are not the answers.

Thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.


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