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Housing

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Urban Institute researchers monitor and assess housing market trends, affordable housing, homelessness, federal housing assistance, racial disparities and housing discrimination, and community revitalization. We recommended greater regulation and reforms for subprime mortgages before the housing market collapse and continue to follow its effects on families and neighborhoods. Our research informs decisionmakers with neighborhood-level data and evaluations of federal housing programs. Read more.

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Putting Mortgage Insurers on Solid Ground (Research Report)
Mark M. Zandi, Jim Parrott, Cristian deRitis

The mortgage insurance industry plays an important role in the housing finance system, providing insurance against default by borrowers with low down payment loans. The industry struggled during the housing bust, and while it has done much to shore up its financial health in the subsequent recovery, more needs to be done to strengthen and stabilize the industry if it is to play the central role in the housing finance system that many envision for it. The Private Mortgage Insurance Eligibility Requirements, recently put forth by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, are intended to do precisely that. A thoughtful effort, these standards should succeed in ensuring that private mortgage insurers are strong counterparties to the government-sponsored enterprises and a much improved bulwark against excessive risk in the system. Several features of the rules as currently written, however, would likely unnecessarily increase costs and cyclicality in the mortgage and housing markets. With a few modest changes, these flaws can be remedied without sacrificing the considerable benefits of the new standards.

Posted to Web: August 26, 2014Publication Date: August 26, 2014

Homeless LGBTQ Youth (Research Brief)
Mary K. Cunningham, Mike Pergamit, Nan Astone, Jessica Luna

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning (LGBTQ) youth are over-represented among the homeless youth population. Researchers and practitioners are working to improve data on homeless youth, especially LGBTQ youth, across the country. This brief summarizes the findings on LGBTQ homeless youth counted during the 2013 YouthCount!, a federal interagency initiative that aims to improve counts of unaccompanied homeless youth. The brief also shares best practices on how to improve counts of LGBTQ homeless youth, and areas where policymakers can act to improve LGBTQ youth outcomes.

Posted to Web: August 21, 2014Publication Date: August 21, 2014

Housing Finance At A Glance: A Monthly Chartbook: August 2014 (Fact Sheet / Data at a Glance)
Laurie Goodman, Ellen Seidman, Jim Parrott, Sheryl Pardo, Jun Zhu, Wei Li, Bing Bai, Taz George, Maia Woluchem, Alison Rincon

The August edition of At A Glance, our reference guide for mortgage and housing market data, includes a special quarterly feature of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan composition, default rates, and repurchase activity.

Posted to Web: August 20, 2014Publication Date: August 20, 2014

A Realistic Assessment of Housing Finance Reform (Commentary)
Laurie Goodman

In August 2008, the GSEs went into conservatorship, and the clear intent was that they were never going to re-emerge; a new system, with a larger role for private capital providers was to take its place. Nearly six years later, GSE reform remains a dream: the government essentially guarantees 80% of new mortgage debt, and credit availability is limited. In this paper, we take a look at the current system, evaluate the proposals for GSE reform, and offer some thoughts on what is being done and what more can be done without a legislative solution.

Posted to Web: August 18, 2014Publication Date: August 01, 2014

Guarantee Fees - An Art, Not a Science (Commentary)
Laurie Goodman, Jim Parrott, Ellen Seidman, Jun Zhu

This commentary examines the potential impact of increasing the guarantee fees that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge lenders. We identify the three most important assumptions made in determining the fees, conclude that transparency regarding these assumptions is critical, and that, under any reasonable set of assumptions, the fees should not be increased for the least risky loans. We also conclude that the GSEs' mission should be taken into account in determining the appropriate capital requirement.

Posted to Web: August 14, 2014Publication Date: August 14, 2014

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