MReport recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Richard Green, Director and Chair of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate. Dr. Green noted several issues that Dr. Carson will face as he enters his term as Secretary of HUD. The first issue, Dr. Green, states, is the power vacuum in Ginnie Mae.
“There’s no president of Ginnie Mae,” said Dr. Green. “The problem Ginnie Mae has is that now issuers have about $1.7 trillion of avoid securities. It has only about 130 employees to monitor these issuers. While the housing finance is scalable, it's not that scalable. They just are really under-resourced for the job they're being asked to do right now. You have the average employee at Ginnie Mae is responsible for about $11 to $12 billion of mortgage backed securities.”
“Sometimes they have to make a decision the way FDIC will make a decision to shut down a bank. Ginnie Mae has to make a decision to shut down an issuer.” Dr. Green continues. “There's no political leadership in place right now to do that. That's one of the most important jobs the Ginnie Mae president has.”
In addition to the leadership problems facing Ginnie Mae, the FHA is experiencing a gap of modernization in the face of similar leadership problems. “The FHA program is a program whose technology is vastly out of date. It means that it's not operated as well as it could be,” said Dr. Green.
This is a problem that Dr. Carson will need to deal with as he enters the office of HUD Secretary, so the question right now is, is Dr. Carson fit to assume these responsibilities?
“You need the technical expertise in order to interpret the financial reporting that comes out of FHA on an annual basis. For all of his skills, Dr. Carson doesn't have training or expertise in how do you evaluate the financials of a government insurance program,” Dr. Green continues. “He doesn't really need to, but he needs to have somebody strong in place to do that for him, and that somebody doesn't exist right now.”
Last, Dr. Green discusses the issue of keeping track of public housing. Again, Dr. Green notes a gap in leadership in this area.
“There will be problems with local public housing authorities, and there needs to be leadership to make determinations about what to do about that,” said Dr. Green. “The federal government sends money to Public Housing Authority in exchange for certain minimum levels of management. Overseeing this is a problem, again this is bipartisan, in the case of all administration. But in particular now, again, you don't have the staffing in place to try to oversee what the local Housing Authorities are doing, and if there is a problem, there isn't a decision maker to try to figure out how to deal with the problem.”
The lack of leadership in these areas and the problems they cause mentioned by Dr. Green are “something that would face anyone coming in. The absence of a built-up leadership team, I think, is a real challenge for him.”
“He has to get the right people in these jobs.”