Attached, for your review and information, is a copy of an introductory welcome letter sent by MHARR on January 7, 2014 to former Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC), the new Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). FHFA is the federal regulator of the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) and the agency charged by Congress with the implementation and enforcement of the “duty to serve underserved markets” (DTS) mandate of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
Rep. Watt, as expected, was sworn-in on January 6, 2014, becoming the first congressionally confirmed Director of FHFA in five years. Rep. Watt takes over from Edward DeMarco, a Bush Administration holdover who has headed FHFA on an acting basis since the resignation of the first FHFA Director in 2009.
As a member of Congress, Rep. Watt was instrumental in ensuring the passage of the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 and provided key support for enactment of the duty to serve. Thus, while some in the industry were highly critical, MHARR was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Rep. Watt’s nomination to head FHFA — an agency that, under its former leadership, had developed and proposed a DTS implementation rule that totally excluded manufactured home chattel loans and ever since has ignored DTS, without ever issuing any final implementation rule. (Please see your copy of MHARR’s May 10, 2013 memorandum, “Rep. Melvin Watt Nominated as FHFA Director”). Although Mr. Watt’s confirmation was blocked in the Senate for much of 2013 under the 60-vote cloture rule, the elimination of that rule for presidential nominees in November 2013 paved the way for his ultimate confirmation just prior to Congress’ 2013 end-of-year recess.
As was discussed in detail at the November 2013 MHARR Board of Directors meeting, this change in leadership at FHFA could also produce a corresponding change in direction at the agency, that may provide an opportunity to administratively revive DTS as originally envisioned by Congress (i.e., including chattel loans).
MHARR will now pursue this opportunity in the manner sanctioned by the Board and will keep you updated as new developments unfold.