Over the next several months, the United States Senate will be considering the nomination of several of the most important housing officials in the U.S. government. Together, they will guide federal housing policy in highly consequential areas, regardless of which party wins the elections of 2022 and even 2024.
The five nominees, all of whom have the support of the National Housing Conference, are Jerome Powell, for Chair of the Federal Reserve Board (FRB), Lael Brainard for Vice Chair of the FRB, Michael Barr for Vice Chair for Supervision at the FRB, Julia Gordon for Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Commissioner the Federal Housing Administration, and Sandra Thompson for Director of the Federal Housing Finance Housing Agency (FHFA).
NHC has strongly endorsed these appointees, and we urge you to consider doing the same. Centrist Republicans and progressive Democrats need to know that their vote is essential to ensuring these positions are filled by good stewards of the American economy, particularly when it comes to housing. Some may have reservations along ideological lines, but given the political landscape in front of us, this may be one of the last opportunities to show that the perfect need not be the enemy of the good. In my opinion, all five are great.
During his tenure, Chair Powell has carefully balanced the need to stimulate the economy while simultaneously rebuilding its tools to address future crises, ensuring economic growth for all communities. He has successfully navigated a range of challenges presented to him as we continue to grapple with the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all know, the Federal Reserve Board has painful choices to make to address rising inflation, a supply chain crisis, labor shortages, and climate change. Chair Powell has the expertise and experience necessary to fight inflation while avoiding recession.
Governor Brainard is an experienced financial regulator who would bring both deep technical expertise and an understanding of how the Board’s actions impact American communities. She has played a pivotal role the effort to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). As Vice Chair, she will be optimally positioned to lead a joint rulemaking process that brings CRA into the 21st century, ensuring that it continues to combat inequality in a fast-changing financial industry.
President Biden announced his intention to nominate Michael Barr on Friday, April 15. During the Clinton administration, Barr helped strengthen CRA and launch the New Markets Tax Credit, and in the Obama administration he was a driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Barr’s academic work, while teaching at the University of Michigan, has focused on advancing racial justice, including the creation of the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund and the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project to support minority-owned small businesses in Detroit. Barr’s understanding of the needs of Wall Street and Main Street gives him the right mix of centrist expertise and progressive policy views to help the FRB navigate the difficult challenges ahead.
Julia Gordon brings deep experience to address the significant challenges that face FHA. If we are going to succeed in closing the racial homeownership gap, FHA must be in the forefront. Through her leadership of the National Community Stabilization Trust, she has a nuanced understanding of local housing markets and how they can function sustainably even when under stress. She also has the skills, experience, and relationships to bring people together, both within FHA and among stakeholders, to address challenges collaboratively and effectively.
Sandra Thompson has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to a safe, sound and equitable housing finance system. This has never been clearer than during the past 10 months that she has served as Acting Director. Her extensive experience at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation makes her particularly well qualified to oversee the safety and soundness of the housing industry through the Government Sponsored Enterprises. She has already made significant progress aligning the oversite and supervision of the Enterprises with the needs of the housing economy while balancing their affordable housing mission with the imperative to maintain their safety and soundness.
Over the course of the past 18 months, I have been asked by the Biden administration to endorse many highly qualified candidates for Senate confirmation. NHC’s policy has been to only weigh in on behalf of people who we know personally. This approach enhances the value of our endorsement because it is based on personal knowledge. I am sure we have passed on endorsing some outstanding candidates, and not everyone was confirmed.
Over the next two weeks, I encourage you to closely examine these nominations and consider weighing in on their behalf. It may be the best investment in housing you make this year.