It has been a little more than a month since The Hon. Brian D. Montgomery took over the reins as the Assistant Secretary for Housing and FHA Commissioner at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). During this time, he’s been busy assessing the agency’s needs and challenges and strategizing with his team about the path forward. “It’s been a busy 30 days, as you can imagine,” he noted Tuesday morning during a limited-attendance media event hosted by HUD.
This isn’t Montgomery’s first time taking up the mantle of FHA Commissioner. He previously served in this position from 2005-2009 under President George W. Bush. Montgomery’s career path intersected with the FHA once again last September, when President Donald J. Trump nominated him as FHA Commissioner. He was confirmed by the Senate in May 2018.
Montgomery told reporters on Tuesday that updating FHA’s technology infrastructure would be a primary focus in the near term. Comparing FHA’s infrastructure to the upgrades and expansions the GSEs have made over the past decade, Montgomery commented that “FHA's looking for loose change under the sofa cushions, and that manifests itself in a lot of ways.”
“We are in fix-it mode,” Montgomery said when asked about the agency’s future plans. “If you look at what Fannie Mae's been able to do, in particular around Day 1 Certainty, they're heavy on data-centric architecture. The CEO there has been visionary and hired a good team. They've been able to do a lot of amazing things.”
Montgomery said that working to fill the agency’s vacancies would be another focus in the near term. “We have a great core here and we just need to expand on that.”
When asked how the FHA would work to promote and improve homeownership rates among minority borrowers, Montgomery agreed that it was an important priority. “The minority ownership numbers have dropped, in particular for African-Americans,” Montgomery said. “Too many minority families are missing out on the benefits of wealth-building and wealth accumulation that homeownership brings over the long term.”
Montgomery explained that homeownership rates expanded between 2005 and 2009, but they have since fallen again. Montgomery said the agency was still exploring possible opportunities to expand its footprint to benefit these underserved communities. “In spite of all that, 33 percent of first-time homebuyers who opt for FHA loans are minorities, and we plan to expand that number moving forward.”