New Agency?

In October, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would strengthen the regulation of government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs) while preserving their vital housing mission. H.R. 1461, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005, would, among other things:

  • Merge the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) with the Federal Housing Finance Board (which oversees the FHLBs), creating a new regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
  • Enhance the affordable housing requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Tougher mortgage purchase goals and a new affordable housing fund to be tied to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts during the fund's first two years would direct the housing finance entities to segments of the market that have previously not been reached.
  • Stipulate that there be no specific portfolio caps or directive for the regulator to reduce the portfolios of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Instead, the regulator would have the authority to address safety and soundness concerns unique to each housing enterprise.
  • Ensure that program-and activity-approval processes are rigorous while allowing the GSEs reasonable flexibility for innovation.
  • Video Pick

    In August, the NAHB released the first English-Spanish jobsite safety orientation DVD for home builders. Two 20-minute videos—one in English, the other in Spanish—provide an overview of the key safety issues residential builders and workers need to focus on to reduce accidents and injuries, including personal protective equipment, stairways and ladders, scaffolding, trenching and excavation, and fire prevention. Based on the NAHB-OSHA Jobsite Safety Handbook, the DVD is intended to be part of an essential residential construction safety-training program. For more information or to place an order, go to www.builderbooks.com.

    Good Job

    The Home Builders Institute (HBI), the workforce development arm of the NAHB, has been selected by Washingtonian magazine as one of the D.C. metropolitan area's “Great Places to Work.” The HBI was one of 55 organizations honored for providing employees with an exciting and supportive work environment.

    Washingtonian praised the HBI for its compressed work schedule, leadership training, outstanding retirement benefits, and excellent staff retention. Asked what makes working at the HBI so attractive, staff cited the institute's mission of helping young people find successful career paths in residential construction and improving the image of the housing industry.

    Seiders Web

    The NAHB has launched the Seiders on Housing blog, an informal online discussion forum led by NAHB chief economist David Seiders that deals with timely economic issues, housing trends, survey research, and other topics affecting the housing sector of the economy. Read his posts at http://nahbblog.blogs.com/seiders_on_housing.