With the growing sentiment against government involvement in single-family housing finance, should the government also move out of multifamily housing finance? On Wednesday, the American Enterprise Institute hosted a panel of multifamily finance experts to discuss the research of panelists Thomas White and Charlie S. Wilkins about the future of multifamily housing finance reform. White, previously of Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Administration, emphasized that the research is a work in progress, with the goal being to develop a process by which the housing finance community can have a healthy private-capital marketplace for multifamily housing. Wilkins, an adviser to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, made a strong case against government finance intervention by pointing out that it takes away too much risk from the marketplace. Some risk is good for proper decision making, he contended, as is some difficulty in borrowing money in the capital markets. He went on to detail how federal intervention distorts capital flows through loan guarantees. In response to the research, John C. Weicher of the Hudson Institute pointed out how the loan guarantee bias for large (50+ unit), multifamily housing creates specific resource-sapping contracts that generally reduce the amount of new large, multifamily contracts. Thomas Watt, member of the board of directors of Enterprise Community Investments, added that the underwriting standards for low-income, multifamily housing and the public policy that stems from it should be examined, as high-quality large, multifamily housing cannot exist without excessive government subsidies.
Over the decades, single- and multifamily housing have vied for government attention, often with disastrous consequences for one or both. While growing consensus is that the government must reduce its involvement in single-family finance, many argue for continued or even expanded involvement in multifamily finance. And rental housing is gaining prominence in the housing reform debate as it becomes more obvious that ownership is not for everyone. Supporters of a government role plead for one form or another of continuing government guarantees of private multifamily mortgage loans, but is this really necessary? And does government involvement help lower rents for low- and moderate-income households? At this event, Thomas White and Charlie S. Wilkins, drawing on their long involvement in multifamily finance, will present their prescription for the future of multifamily housing finance reform, and John C. Weicher and Thomas Watts will draw from their own deep wells of experience to comment on the presentation.
EDWARD PINTO, AEI
THOMAS WHITE, Centerline Capital Group
CHARLIE S. WILKINS, Compass Group
JOHN C. WEICHER, Hudson Institute
THOMAS WATT, Consultant
EDWARD PINTO, AEI
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Edward Pinto is a resident fellow at AEI. He has provided credit and marketing consulting services to the mortgage-finance industry for the last 20 years. Mr. Pinto was the executive vice president and chief credit officer at Fannie Mae from 1987 to 1989 and the senior vice president of marketing and product management from 1985 to 1987. Before his work at Fannie Mae, Mr. Pinto was senior legal counsel for the Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation and general counsel for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Mr. Pinto’s consulting clients have included GE Capital Mortgage Insurance Company, Dime Savings Bank, Mellon Bank and Home Savings Bank. Mr. Pinto worked with the Loan Performance Corporation to develop their delinquency database, which is now the industry standard. He has appeared as an expert witness in real estate finance–related litigation and has published or contributed to articles in various publications and on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Pinto is frequently interviewed by newspapers and other news sources on real estate finance.
Thomas Watt currently consults with a variety of organizations in the areas of commercial real estate investing and affordable housing. He is a member of the board of directors of Enterprise Community Investments and serves as a trustee of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society. Previously, Mr. Watt was senior vice president and head of multifamily housing at Freddie Mac from 1991 to 1999. Before that, he headed the real estate investment operations of Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company and performed a variety of professional and managerial roles for Cigna Corporation and its predecessor, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, in their urban and agricultural investment areas.
John C. Weicher is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Housing and Financial Markets. From 2001 to 2005, he was assistant secretary for housing and federal housing commissioner at the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development, with responsibility for 3,400 staff and half a trillion dollars of Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance. His major initiatives included regulatory reform of the real estate settlement process, mission regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and establishing a risk-based premium structure for FHA’s multifamily mortgage insurance. He previously was assistant secretary for policy development and research at HUD from 1989 to 1993 and chief economist at both HUD (1975–1977) and the Office of Management and Budget (1987–1989).
Thomas White is currently a trustee of Centerline Capital, a debt and equity investor in multifamily housing properties, and of Enterprise Investments, the for-profit arm of Enterprise Partnerships. Previously, he was senior vice president at Fannie Mae, responsible for all Fannie debt and equity investments for multifamily properties, including the Delegated Underwriting and Servicing program. Mr. White also was executive vice president of the National Council of State Housing Agencies; held senior positions at the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development, Bear Stearns and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority; and co-directed a major study of the U.S. Department of Agriculture multifamily programs. Early in his career, Mr. White was a social worker, a community organizer for the city of Detroit and a state legislator representing downtown Detroit.
Charlie S. Wilkins is a consultant who works with regulatory agencies, owners, managers and lenders regarding affordable housing policy, finance, asset management and property management. He is an advisor to the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development’s Mark to Market, Green Retrofit, HOME and Neighborhood Stabilization programs and to the State of Louisiana’s hurricane recovery program. He formerly advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service. As a senior executive with the National Housing Partnership, Mr. Wilkins was responsible for asset management of NHP’s 60,000 units of affordable housing and its relationships with the Congress and HUD. He is a senior fellow in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Maryland, a past president of the National Affordable Housing Management Association and a board member of the National Center for Healthy Housing.