Settlement Secured In Sexual Harassment Suit Against Landlord

By KIMBERLEY HAAS An agreement to resolve a lawsuit against a landlord who allegedly touched female tenants and entered their apartments without consent has been reached. Officials at the United States Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that Davenport, Iowa, landlord Juan Goitia will be prohibited from managing rental housing and is required to retain an independent property manager to oversee any rental properties he has now or in the future because he violated the Fair Housing Act. “Sexual harassment by housing providers is an illegal and egregious abuse of power that deprives tenants of their right to be safe and secure in their homes,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Clarke said…

Fannie Mae Commits $5M To 2022 Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge

Fannie Mae has committed $5 million to its second annual Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge (IC22), the GSE announced. The challenge seeks to “attract innovative ideas that will help advance racial equity in housing,” according to the press release. Fannie Mae will receive proposals from the public, private, and non-profit sectors, as well as from individuals and teams.  Proposals should address supply, funding, and credit barriers. IC22 is part of the GSE’s Sustainable Communities Partnership and Innovation Initiative, which helps to develop collaborative, cross-sector approaches to advancing sustainable communities. “Fannie Mae is proud to launch the next iteration of the Innovation Challenge and support innovative projects that promote racial equity in housing in the United States,” said Maria Evans, Vice President…

Industry Applauds Confirmation Of Julia Gordon As FHA Commissioner

In a narrow victory decided by a tie-breaking vote, Julia Gordon has been confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). President Biden nominated Gordon to the position in June. Her nomination to the Senate for a vote didn’t happen in 2021, forcing President Biden to re-nominate her. This time around, Gordon was confirmed by a 51-50 vote in the Senate after a tie was broken by Vice President Kamala Harris. Gordon most recently served as president of the National Community Stabilization Trust, a nonprofit organization that promotes neighborhood revitalization and housing affordability.  Gordon previously served as Senior Director of Housing and Consumer…

Acting Comptroller Discusses Bank Mergers

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The Acting Comptroller of the Currency says there is a need to update the frameworks used to analyze bank merger applications. In a speech before the Brookings Institution on Monday, Michael Hsu discussed proposed mergers in the context of bank competition, financial stability, and facilitating the needs of communities. “Bank mergers have received significant attention this past year. Concerns about the negative effects of bank mergers on competition, communities, and financial stability have prompted some to call for a moratorium on merger activity,” Hsu said. “In response, others have defended the benefits of mergers. They note that the U.S. financial services market is highly competitive, and mergers allow institutions to achieve needed economies of scale and to…

Markets See Losses Ahead of FOMC Meeting This Week

The Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meets Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Market participants anticipate that officials will raise interest rates by 50 basis points, the first hike of more than 25 basis points since 2000.  The Fed will also likely announce plans to roll assets off the central bank’s balance sheet, which it has alluded to until now. “We really are committed to using our tools to get 2% inflation back,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said this month. “It is appropriate in my view to be moving a little more quickly. And I also think there is something in the idea of front-end loading … that points to the direction of 50 basis points being on the table.”…

Rocket Mortgage Works To End Digital Divide In Detroit

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Leaders at Rocket Mortgage are working to end the digital divide in Detroit where it is estimated that one-quarter of residents do not have internet access. That number is down from nearly 40% in 2016, according to Dana Afana at Detroit Free Press, but those working on the issue say there is still a long way to go especially considering how important the internet is post-2020. The Changing the Course initiative was established in that year to end the digital divide in Detroit, where Rocket Mortgage is located. Money raised from The Rocket Mortgage Classic, which made history in 2019 as the first PGA TOUR ever held in the city, supports the campaign. The tour raised $1.35…

CHLA: FHFA Updated Seller Standards Could Have “Negative Real-World Consequences”

The Community Home Lenders Association (CHLA) sent a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) commenting on its proposed increases in financial requirements for Fannie and Freddie. In February, the FHFA proposed updated standards that mortgage lenders would have to meet in order to sell loans to or service loans on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The standards were set in 2015 and have remained with little modification since then. The update is meant to strengthen required capital and liquidity for seller/servicers with different business models, as well as provide for more transparency and consistency, “by incorporating cost and risk assumptions that were not previously considered and re-evaluating modeling assumptions and inputs, given changes in the servicing…

Opinion: Black Mortgage Denials Are Increasing. We Need Tech-Based Solutions To Reverse The Trend

By KEVIN B. KIMBLE Editor’s Note: This article was written by a contributor and contains the individual’s views, opinions, or personal experiences. The Biden administration recently unveiled an action plan to address racial bias in home appraisals and other areas of the American housing system.  As new research from Zillow shows, this couldn’t come at a better time. Zillow found that there is a widening mortgage approval gap along racial lines.  Specifically, Black applicants are denied a mortgage at a rate 84 percent higher than white applicants.  This figure has been worsening, representing an increase of 10 percentage points since 2019.  The approval disparity has contributed to declining Black homeownership, a crucial aspect of wealth building.  The negative trend in Black mortgage denials is…

Foreclosure Suspended For Homeowners Seeking Relief, FHA Says

Homeowners facing foreclosure can now stall proceedings while waiting to receive federal aid.  The Federal Housing Agency (FHA) announced that Freddie Mac and Fannie will require servicers to suspend foreclosure activities for up to 60 days if the servicer has been informed that the borrower applied for assistance through the Homeowner Assistance Fund. “FHFA is committed to sustainable homeownership. Today’s action will provide borrowers who need temporary mortgage assistance with additional time to be evaluated for relief through their state’s approved Homeownership Assistance Fund,” said FHFA Acting Director Sandra L. Thompson.  The move is meant to help homeowners on the brink of foreclosure who may still be struggling to make on-time payments. The HAF provides up to $9.96 billion for…

$3.3 Million In Funding Available To Combat COVID-19 Housing Discrimination

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are making an additional $3,285,353 in American Rescue Plan funding available to help fight housing discrimination related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was made on Tuesday and according to a press release, this is the third round of American Rescue Plan funding that targets COVID-19 related discrimination. About $16.1 million in funding has been awarded to 62 HUD Fair Housing Initiatives Program agencies to address the impact the pandemic has had on communities of color, low-income communities, and other vulnerable populations. Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal…