As the country continues to experience the impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis, safety and health precautions are paramount. This includes helping to ensure people have access to housing and the assistance necessary to retain it. The Hill.TV recently sat down with Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Dr. Lynn Fisher, deputy director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, to discuss how the housing industry is tackling the immediate concerns around housing and what the impact may be going forward.
“We're dealing with a national health crisis, so making sure that households are not put on the street, that they’re able to continue to reside in their homes has been a first and foremost concern of Fannie and Freddie,” Dr. Fisher shared. “The other thing is a lot of folks have lost their jobs, and so giving them relief and time to hopefully regain their job or find employment again.”
The financial assistance provided through Congress has been critical in this regard.
“One of the reasons we've been able to be sustained is because Congress has come through with relief packages on two occasions,” noted Secretary Carson, echoing sentiments he had previously shared with NAHB members.
In addition to direct assistance, both HUD and FHFA recognize the value of flexibility as everyone who plays a role in the housing industry navigates the “new normal,” including telecommuting and social distancing protocols. This includes not only allowing for more electronic transactions, but also flexibility in funding to allow local and state jurisdictions to appropriate funds where there is the greatest need.
“[We recognize] that the people in the various jurisdictions probably are going to be better able to recognize what their specific issues are for their populous and to deal with them if they have the ability to utilize those funds,” Carson stated.
The long-term impact of COVID-19 still remains to be seen, and it will take some time to see how the economy continues to recover, Dr. Fisher noted. But signs within the housing industry, such as rising home prices, look promising.
“This has been a great bright spot for the economy, that housing bounced back in the proverbial 'V' shape that everyone was hoping for,” she said.
Watch the full episode in the video above.