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Bipartisan commission co-chaired by Kit Bond recommends transformation of nation’s housing system

February 25, 2013

Kit Bond and Charlie Dooley
Senator Kit Bond greets St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley at a June 2012 roundtable on community lending. The St. Louis roundtable was part of Bond’s 16 months of work as co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission.

For the past 16 months, Senator Kit Bond, a Thompson Coburn partner, worked on a bipartisan commission of former Cabinet secretaries, Senators, leading housing advocates and economic experts on a new vision for housing policy.

After holding regional forums across the country, including one in St. Louis, and roundtables with hundreds of stakeholders, the report from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission, entitled "Housing America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy," was unveiled at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., today.

To fix our broken housing finance system, create a more stable housing market, and increase taxpayer protection, the bipartisan Housing Commission proposes a significantly increased role for the private sector and a continued, but limited role for the federal government. In addition, the Commission urges the elimination of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a much-needed reform of the Federal Housing Administration.

Kit Bond, a career-long advocate for affordable housing, also worked to ensure the Commission addressed our federal rental policy. The rental policy recommendations call for substantial reforms, including a new performance-based system and devolution of responsibilities to state and local providers. Most significantly, the Commission recommends the current “lottery” system be replaced. Currently, only 1 in 4 households eligible for housing assistance actually receive that assistance. Under the Commission’s plan, existing resources would be channeled to those that need it most (those at 30 percent of area median income and below).

The Commission also recommends preserving and expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program to increase the supply of affordable rental housing. For homebuyers, the report highlights the importance of housing counseling and financial education. For the one-third of Americans who live in rural areas, the commission supports continued support for the unique homeownership and rental assistance in those communities.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission is co-chaired by Kit Bond as well as former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, former Senator and HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. In addition, the Commission was made up of 17 other individuals from across the political spectrum and with diverse expertise and backgrounds.

Media coverage:
Op-ed in Politico
Wall Street Journal
St. Louis Beacon