Public Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Sandra L. Thompson
Acting Director, Federal Housing Finance Agency
FHFA Virtual Listening Session: "Closing the Gap to Sustainable Homeownership"
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
I am honored by the President's appointment and I am really looking forward to leading FHFA as we continue to carry out our Agency's important mission.
Since I first joined FHFA in 2013, I've had the pleasure to work for four different directors and acting directors. Each built on the accomplishments of their predecessors, and I am looking forward to continuing that tradition.
Certainly, in the past few years, FHFA made great strides in strengthening our Agency and our regulated entities. We will continue to build on this foundation, which includes this series of listening sessions.
Let me thank all our participants for joining today's virtual listening session on Closing the Gap to Sustainable Homeownership.
As you may know, June is National Homeownership Month. But as we know all too well, unfortunately, access to homeownership is not evenly distributed across our nation.
Today there is a widespread lack of affordable housing and access to credit, problems that are especially concentrated in communities of color.
FHFA plays a vital role in both promoting access to mortgage credit nationwide and protecting the safety and soundness of the housing finance system. We do this through our supervision of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System.
Throughout my career as a financial regulator, I've said that safety and soundness and access to credit are not mutually exclusive and shouldn't even be thought of that way. Broad, fair access and stability for financial institutions work together as pillars of the nation's housing finance system.
Indeed, sustainable access to credit requires sustainable lending standards.
I served as the FDIC's head of supervision throughout the most recent financial crisis. I witnessed firsthand the consequences of irresponsible lending when hundreds of banks across the country were closed and a record number of homes went into foreclosure.
I saw how the borrowers who received unsustainable loans and suspect loan products were devastated in the downturn. And Black and Latino communities were hit especially hard.
Years of progress in closing the racial homeownership and wealth gaps were erased as a result. In fact, today the Black-white homeownership gap is wider than it was in the 1960s, when lending discrimination based on race was still legal.
As a regulator, I know what expanding access to credit looks like. And I know what irresponsible lending looks like. Irresponsible lending is not an expansion of access to credit.
FHFA will continue to protect the financial system and our nation's borrowers from irresponsible business practices at our regulated entities, and by extension their business partners.
Today is an opportunity for us to hear from you about sustainably closing the homeownership gap. Your feedback will help FHFA ensure that our regulated entities equitably fulfill their mission and responsibilities.
And our exchange of information will not be limited to formal listening sessions like these. FHFA is always interested in hearing from stakeholders, experts, and people with on-the-ground perspective to share.
I look forward to continuing this conversation, and I encourage you to continue giving us candid feedback.
Thank you again for joining today's listening session.