The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly exacerbated America’s national housing crisis, which has been defined by rising rates of homelessness, a surge in evictions, and a large increase in housing insecurity among Black and Hispanic households. These trends have been compounded by the Trump Administration’s rollback of public housing policies and outright disdain for the enforcement of fair housing laws. The current crisis has also coincided with a decades-long neglect of the preservation and expansion of the nation’s affordable public housing supply by policymakers and a surge in real estate acquisitions by corporate landlords and private equity investors like Blackstone Group and NexPoint Residential Trust, resulting in skyrocketing home prices and rents across the country. Together, these trends have made the current housing crisis unlike anything America has seen since the Great Depression.
The Revolving Door Project has taken a multifaceted approach to explain how the executive branch can respond to the national housing crisis. For one, we have documented the importance of personnel appointments and vacancies in housing policy at executive branch departments and independent agencies. We highlighted the hiring of Charles Yi, a Wall Street-friendly former BigLaw partner with a troubling record of advancing the interests of entrenched corporate power, at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). We have also catalogued the mounting personnel vacancies at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that are undermining progress in key housing policy areas.
RDP has also sought to document the ties between the real estate industry and the current administration. We have tracked political contributions from prominent real estate industry moguls to the Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg campaigns in our Presidential Power Map.
Above all, the project has sought to demonstrate the nature of housing policy as a whole-of-government issue necessitating an all-of-government response, rather than a niche issue confined to one or two agencies. We have documented the various housing policies and powers held by various executive branch agencies and departments, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of the Interior, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In the coming weeks and months, the Revolving Door Project will work with affordable housing and tenants rights advocates to center tenants and struggling homeowners in national housing policy discussion. We will urge executive branch officials to make full use of their existing housing powers to serve the public interest, rather than corporate real estate investors, and call them out when they fail to do so. We will continue to keep watchful eyes on executive branch housing policy nominees and appointees, and will rigorously document executive branch and presidential housing policy powers that do not require legislative action to invoke.
Below you will find some of the project’s writing and research on housing policy. This page will be continually updated with new articles and blog posts.
October 03, 2022 | The American Prospect
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is lacking vital staff during a crisis of housing affordability.
February 22, 2022
If confirmed to lead the FHFA, Thompson would have enormous power to tackle the affordable housing crisis and address racial equity in housing.
January 28, 2022
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is an independent federal agency established by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) following the 2008-2010 subprime mortgage crisis. Upon its creation, the FHFA replaced the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB), the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), and the GSE mission office at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The FHFA is responsible for ensuring regulated entities “fulfill their mission by operating in a safe and sound manner to serve as a reliable source of liquidity and funding for the housing finance market throughout the economic cycle.” The agency oversees the supervision, regulation, and housing mission oversight of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which includes the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks) and the Office of Finance.
January 27, 2022
As the pandemic exacerbates the nation’s ongoing housing crisis, President Biden has promised swift and immediate action. Effectively deploying the federal government’s powers to address this crisis, however, will require more than just good policy and motivated leadership. Past administrations eroded the federal government’s capacity to carry out effective policy to help tenants and homeowners. This administration will need to form new infrastructure, with an outsized focus on staffing reforms, in order to both restore capacity and implement new housing policies that will enable Americans to readily access safe and affordable housing.
December 10, 2021
Many executive branch departments and agencies — including FEMA, USDA, and the VA — administer lesser-known federal housing programs.
October 01, 2021
Despite pledging to address the homelessness crisis, the president has not prioritized staffing HUD with housing policy personnel.