Andrew Kahr blames Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's affordable housing goals for helping "inflate" the housing bubble ("Want the 'Underserved' to Borrow More? Really? Here's How," Sept. 18). But former GOP appointees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development see it differently.
In a November 17, 2008 op-ed in the conservative magazine National Review, John Weicher, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and a former assistant secretary for housing at HUD in the George W. Bush administration, wrote: "The affordable-housing goals are a wonderful excuse … The goals are even blamed by some conservatives, who see them as credit allocation, and overlook the special privileges conferred on the GSEs by their federal charters which create something close to a federally sponsored duopoly in the mortgage market. But this convenient explanation doesn't fit the facts. The GSEs began buying subprime mortgage-backed securities (MBS) heavily in 2002. Their purchases of subprime MBS doubled between 2002 and 2003, and doubled again in 2004 – from $38 billion to $81 billion to $176 billion. All this happened before the housing goals were changed in 2005. After the new goals went into effect, their subprime MBS purchases actually declined."
Weicher concludes: "If the affordable-housing goals don't account for the GSEs' behavior, what does? The best explanation is the simplest: The GSEs badly misjudged the risk of subprime mortgages."
Mark Calabria, the director of financial regulation studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, and a former deputy assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at HUD, wrote in a March 7, 2011 paper, "To a large extent, it was not a competition to retain market share that drove the GSEs into subprime, but an attempt to maintain the outsized profits and revenue growth experienced from 2000 to 2003."
Judy Kennedy is the president and CEO of the National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders