On June 27, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing, titled "Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development," in which HUD Secretary Ben Carson testified and responded to questions regarding the status and funding for HUD programs. For the first time during a congressional hearing, Carson was asked about the FHA-HFA Risk-Sharing Program (Risk-Sharing) and related Federal Financing Bank (FFB) option. Similar to previous hearings this year, Carson spent much of the hearing defending the Administration’s proposed funding cuts and rent reform proposals and responding to questions about fair housing enforcement.
In his only question during the hearing, Representative Jim Himes (D-CT) asked Secretary Carson to support the Risk-Sharing program and FFB financing option, urging him to reconsider HUD’s FY 2019 budget proposal to wind down the FFB program this fiscal year. Carson responded that he was still waiting for his staff to provide their recommendations.
Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Ranking Member Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) focused many of their questions on HUD’s remediation of mold and lead-based paint hazards in public and subsidized housing, echoing concerns brought forward during the Subcommittee’s June 26 hearing on the topic. Carson acknowledged that HUD needed to improve its efforts in collecting accurate metrics for remediation and prioritize oversight.
Committee members asked Carson several questions regarding HUD’s recent actions related to fair housing, including withdrawing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing assessment tool for local governments and seeking comments on potential changes to its Final Rule on Fair Housing Act Disparate Impact Standard. Hensarling, noting the Treasury Department had recommended HUD reconsider its disparate impact rule as it relates to the insurance industry, asked if HUD has legal jurisdiction over insurance regulation. The Secretary responded that HUD is not in the business of regulating insurance.
Several Committee members also asked Carson about efforts to modernize the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) outdated technology. Carson suggested this was a high priority and urged Congress to provide adequate funding necessary for technology upgrades.
Carson also told the Committee that HUD would release in September a final rule easing restrictions on using FHA insurance for loans used to purchase condominiums.