Senate grids Biden housing candidates on tweets

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Senate Republicans today toasted three of President Joe Biden’s candidates for positions in the we Department of Housing and urban development on their past comments in favor of police funding, while Democrats asked them how they would tackle housing affordability.

Julia Gordon, Biden’s choice to lead the Fair housing administration at HUD, Solomon Greene, who would be HUD’s deputy secretary for policy development and research, and Dave Uejio, acting director of Consumer Finance Protection Office and candidate for the post of Deputy Secretary of the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunities Office at HUD, answered questions from the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs ranging from housing policy to opinions expressed on social media.

Senior Pennsylvania Republican Senator Patrick Toomey asked Gordon and Greene to explain the tweets they posted last year that criticized the police. Republicans on the committee wrote to Biden to request that Gordon and Greene’s nomination be withdrawn due to the tweets, which have since been deleted.

Both candidates have distanced themselves from their past tweets, and the three candidates, including Uejio, told the committee that they do not support police funding.

Toomey also questioned some of Uejio’s actions related to housing policy while leading the CFPB, including a decision to delay the general rule of qualified mortgages, which was rejected by affordable housing advocates as well as by the mortgage industry. He also took issue with Uejio providing regular updates to Biden’s candidate for CFPB director Rohit Chopra. Chopra has still not been confirmed, after a committee resulted in a tie.

Visibly tense when answering Toomey’s question, Uejio said he was not testifying in his capacity as interim director of the CFPB. He noted that Chopra was not kept apprised of staff decisions, but was regularly updated by career staff on the activities of the oversight agency.

Other committee members, including Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tina Smith of Minnesota, drew attention to the challenges typical homeowners face when investors buy homes they might otherwise buy.

Smith said that in Minneapolis, a private equity firm bought “hundreds of homes and converted them to permanent rentals,” which she said reduced the supply of homes that can be purchased by typical families.

Gordon said she has noticed the trend in many places and part of it is due to changes in the way homes are bought and sold.

“The way we deal with housing is evolving from the old system, where you went to [multiple listing service] and all the houses were there, ”Gordon said.

She added, “There’s a lot more going on now on auction websites and a lot more money-limited transactions. This prevents typical families, not only low income but also middle class, from owning property. “

Warren said the past FHA policy of pooling foreclosed mortgages and selling them to investors has led to a “payday” for private equity firms, and now the FHA claims without Transfer of ownership program bypass a first look period for owners and nonprofits. .

Gordon said she would consider changing the program. She added that the appreciation in house prices seen across the country is “insane” and that the problem is particularly severe for lower income brackets, where there is also generally more competition with cash buyers. uniquely.

She said making smaller mortgages available to families is an issue she would also like to tackle, “to make sure there is a lender who is willing to make the mortgage, when they could. rather, take out a more expensive mortgage loan “.

The committee will meet again in September after the August Senate recess to vote on the candidates.


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