Mary Scott Balys
On June 24, the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing on “Examining Bipartisan Bills to Increase Access to Housing.” Lisa Mensah, OFN’s president and CEO, testified as the first witness on a panel that included Nan Roman of the National Alliance to End Homelessness and Howard Husock of the American Enterprise Institute.
On a busy day of multiple Senate hearings, attendance was very strong with Lisa fielding questions from Chairman Brown (D-OH) and Senators Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Reed (D-RI), Smith (D-MN), Van Hollen (D-MD), and Warren (D-MA). OFN’s testimony focused particular attention on challenges facing rural and tribal markets. OFN expressed strong support for two bills the committee was considering: the Native American Rural Homeownership Improvement Act and the Improving FHA Support for Small Dollar Mortgages Act.
The Native American Rural Homeownership Improvement Act would expand USDA’s 502 pilot program to provide access to mortgage lending on tribal lands and the Improving FHA Support for Small Dollar Mortgages Act would require the Federal Housing Administration to complete a study of how the Department of Housing and Urban Development could reduce barriers to homeownership, particularly for small dollar mortgages. Both bipartisan bills will build on the work CDFIs are already doing on the ground.
OFN is pleased to see the Senate Banking Committee focus on the role of CDFIs in addressing the nation’s growing affordable housing crisis. We will continue to advocate for resources to help mission lenders meet the housing needs of financially underserved communities.