THE BLOG
10/15/2013 05:26 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

GOP Government Shutdown -- Risking our Housing Recovery

For 15 days, Republican leadership has threatened the sustainability of the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, Head Start, government-backed small business loans and many other essential programs. While we wait for Speaker Boehner to take the reins from the Tea Party, Americans and their economic security are suffering. We know the federal government shutdown is damaging our economy recovery. The longer it is allowed to continue, the more severe the damage will be. According to a Bloomberg News report, our economy is losing approximately $300 million a day in opportunity cost. In other words, without the shutdown, those millions could have been directed towards our economy. Our housing industry, inextricably tied to our economy recovery, has not escaped this scourge. I have long said that there cannot be a sustained and robust economic recovery without a strong housing recovery. It is worth noting that disruption to the housing market is, perhaps, the untold story of the shutdown.

Housing is close to 20 percent of the U.S. GDP and the biggest asset for many Americans. It is, therefore, clear to see how it is central to our economic success. Leading up to the shutdown, housing had been in a period of recovery with home sales reaching a six-year high in August. There are exceptions in certain areas and sectors, but the trend has been positive as buyers took advantage of low interest rates and increasing property values -- finally making selling attractive.

Instead of working to further improve our housing outlook, House Republicans have decided to put our recovery at risk. Today, our entire federal government is being held hostage by a minority of the majority. With this shutdown, the GOP is undermining the housing recovery. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has announced mortgage approvals for multifamily mortgages are suspended, which will directly impact many buyers. However, the pain in the housing market will be more widespread than multifamily. You see, mortgages require certain government paperwork and verifications from both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). The Federal Housing Administration, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will continue to operate through the shutdown to close loans, but without the necessary forms from the IRS and SSA many transactions will be delayed. In a more prolonged shutdown, we could see additional disruptions in the housing market, including suspending interest rate approvals.

The problems are magnified for small lenders that rely on government agencies to approve lenders for FHA-backed loans, creating additional problems for small banks and low and moderate-income borrowers. These low- to moderate-income families are also the families who have been left behind in the economic recovery. The recovery is fragile exactly because these working families continue to struggle to gain any traction in the current recovery. There is simply no way for the economic recovery to truly take hold if Republicans continue to increase the headwinds to the housing market, and specifically to those areas of the housing market that are already most tenuous.

I am tired of this political posturing that is creating self-inflicted wounds to our economy and our housing industry. American families, who rely on a sustainable economy, are not pawns in any politically driven game. It seems, however, that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle did not receive that message. The sun is setting on the American people, and House Republicans are poised to leave us in darkness.

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