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Ex-HUD Officials, Lawmakers Lead New Housing Commission

Lawmakers and policymakers from both sides of the aisle recently teamed up to head a bipartisan commission on the future of U.S. housing policy.


The ""Bipartisan Policy Center"":http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/ (BPC), a D.C.-based nonprofit organization, floated commission leaders whose names include former HUD secretaries Henry Cisneros and Mel Martinez, ex-Sen. Kit Bond, and onetime Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who also founded the organization.

""I'm pleased to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in tackling this critical issue,"" Martinez, also a former senator from Florida, said in the ""statement"":http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/news/press-releases/2011/10/bipartisan-policy-center-launches-new-commission-address-future-us-housi.

""As we begin our work in the coming months, I will urge our Commission to take a broad look at the economics of housing, not only in terms of the appropriate federal role, but also how housing is connected to other important sectors of the economy ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô such as energy, transportation, and health care ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô all of which play a vital role in our nation's economic recovery,"" he said.

According to the statement, the BPC plans to leverage the commission to assemble political and industry opinions for


the cultivation of ""realistic and actionable policy recommendations"" with the intention to shore up housing finance and homeowner needs across the country.

The commission will finalize the details of these recommendations in a major package for current lawmakers and policymakers to strengthen and implement new strategies for the housing market.

""The Bipartisan Policy Center's Domenici-Rivlin Debt Reduction Task Force, of which I was a member, had strongly divergent views, but came together around recommendations to help push the country forward,"" Cisneros added in the statement.

""By conducting robust, evidenced-based analysis to inform our deliberations and recommendations and seeking input from the public and thought leaders around the country, I believe we can accomplish that same goal with the Housing Commission we are launching today,"" he said.

What remains unclear is whether the commission will tackle major instruments of housing finance, including ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/, which lawmakers today continue to propose abolishing and streamlining in their various proposals.

Earlier this week one ""Rep. Scott Garrett"":http://garrett.house.gov/ (R-New Jersey) proposed ""doing away with the GSEs"":https://themreport.com/articles/fhfa-fannie-freddie-may-need-142b-in-taxpayer-funds-2011-10-27 and sending up several new categories for mortgage loans to the ""Federal Housing Finance Agency"":http://www.fhfa.gov/.

Housing finance reform remains a sticky issue in general for Congress, which also allowed higher limits for conforming loans to lapse in early October.

The MacArthur Foundation will help finance the commission's initiatives.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.

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