Oppose H.R. 2954 – “The Home Mortgage Disclosure Adjustment Act”

Dear Representative,

The undersigned civil rights, fair housing, consumer, and community organizations strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 2954, “the Home Mortgage Disclosure Adjustment Act”. The bill would undermine efforts to ensure that the nation’s mortgage lenders are serving all segments of the market fairly by exempting the vast majority of lenders from the updated reporting required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank). Public officials use this information in distributing public-sector investments so as to attract private investment to areas where it is needed, and to identify possible discriminatory lending patterns.

The Dodd-Frank Act’s Updated HMDA Reporting Reflects Lessons from the Financial Crisis

In response to widespread concerns about predatory lending and opacity in the mortgage market in the run-up to and following the financial crisis[1], Congress amended the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) to require both banks and non-bank lenders to disclose more information about their mortgage lending activities – updates finalized by the CFPB in 2015.  Although not previously reported and disclosed through HMDA, these data points are already collected on a routine basis by banks, credit unions and for-profit mortgage companies in the normal course of business, either as a part of basic loan underwriting, for securitization or for other purposes required by law[2].

The CFPB Reduces the Reporting Burden on Small Lenders Without Sacrificing Data About Lending in Underserved Communities

After considering a number of higher reporting thresholds and receiving extensive feedback from all size and type of lending institutions, the CFPB adopted a standard that applies the new reporting requirements to institutions that made 25 closed-end mortgage loans or 100 open-end/home equity lines of credit (HELCOS) in each of the prior two years. Importantly, in response to concerns raised by lenders and some in Congress, the CFPB has already temporarily raised the reporting threshold for HELOCs to 500 through 2019, in order to further review the impact of the rule and what the permanent HELOC threshold should be. In adopting the HMDA thresholds, the agency balanced several Congressional interests – adopting a uniform and simplified reporting regime for banks and non-banks; eliminating the need for low-volume banks to report while maintaining sufficient data for analysis at the national, local, and institutional levels; and increasing visibility into the home mortgage lending practices of non-banks.

H.R. 2954 upsets that careful balance: its proposed reporting thresholds – 500 closed end loans or 500 open-end lines – would exempt the vast majority of the nation’s mortgage lenders from the updated requirements.  Based on 2013 data, under the threshold set by the CFPB, 22 percent (1,400) of the depository institutions that currently report on their closed-end mortgages would be exempt.  In contrast, if H.R. 2954 were enacted, the agency estimates that 85 percent (5,400) of depositories and 48 percent (497) of nondepositories would not have to update reporting on their mortgages. This higher threshold would sacrifice key data about lending in underserved communities that would help to ensure the flow of credit to qualified borrowers, stimulate the economy, and prevent future mortgage crises.[3]

 

Tiered Reporting Sacrifices Critical Data Without Reducing Lender Burden

H.R. 2954 proposes to adopt a tiered reporting approach, exempting some lenders from reporting the new data points pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act only.  This is purportedly a way to reduce burden.  However, because the data points covered by the rule are already collected by lenders, the burden associated with the rule is minimal. Further, as with any data collection effort, the primary driver of HMDA costs is in establishing and maintaining systems to collect and report data, and not the costs associated with collecting and reporting a particular data field.[4]  Therefore, this approach sacrifices critical information without relieving much of the purported HMDA reporting burden on banks or non-banks.

 

H.R. 2954 Would Undermine Fair Access to Mortgage Credit

HMDA was passed in 1975 to provide the necessary tools to dismantle uneven access to mortgage credit and expand equal lending opportunities for qualified borrowers, yet important segments of the market continue to lack fair access. For people of color, low? to moderate?income families, and borrowers in rural areas, access to mortgage credit remains tight[5]. While the numbers of loan originations have gone down for all borrowers, African Americans and Latinos have experienced the steepest declines.[6]  A Federal Reserve analysis of lending in rural areas has found higher denial rates in those communities since the housing crisis than in urban areas.[7]   The new data would help explain and inform responses to these lending gaps. A new HMDA data point on the applicant’s age is also vital information for evaluating age bias in lending, especially in conjunction with reverse mortgages.

The stark disparities in access to mortgage credit and the continued struggle for economic recovery in the communities hit hardest by the financial crisis call for a strengthening of our nation’s fair lending laws, specifically HMDA, not a weakening of them.  Quite simply, the updated HMDA data will provide critical information about whether similarly situated borrowers and underserved communities are receiving equitable access to mortgage credit, data that we lacked a decade ago when the crisis hit. This is not the time to limit the nation’s ability to adequately assess the reasons for restricted credit access for underserved borrowers.  Instead, we must increase efforts to address the causes behind the increased difficulty in accessing safe, affordable credit.

For these reasons and more, we urge you to oppose H.R. 2954.  Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Gerron Levi at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition at (202) 464-2708.

 

Sincerely,

National Organizations

Americans for Financial Reform

Center for Responsible Lending

Consumer Action

Consumer Federation of America

Equal Rights Center

Grounded Solutions Network

Housing Choice Partners

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Morningstar Urban Development, Incorporated

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development

National Community Reinvestment Coalition

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Housing Law Project

National Organization of African Americans in Housing

National Urban League

People’s Action

Public Counsel

Rural Community Assistance Corporation

Take Charge America

UnidosUS (Formerly NCLR)

 

AL

Alabama Associations of Community Development Corporations

BENS Connects CDC

Birmingham Business Resource Center

Building Alabama Reinvestment

Central Alabama Fair Housing Center

Community Action Association of Alabama

Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama

Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama

MLK Avenue Redevelopment Corporation

Neighborhood Concepts, Incorporated

Norwood Resource Center

Pathways

PHI

Titusville Development Corporation

 

AZ

Campesinos Sin Fronteras

Southwest Fair Housing Council

 

CA

California Community Economic Development Association

California Reinvestment Coalition

Eden Council for Hope and Opportunity

Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California

Fair Housing Council of the San Fernando Valley

Fresno CDFI

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates

Housing Equality Law Project (HELP)

Housing Rights Center

Little Tokyo Service Center

Mutual Housing California

Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services Inc.

Oakland Community Land Trust

Peoples’ Self-Help Housing

Project Sentinel Inc.

Rural Community Assistance Corporation

San Francisco Community Land Trust

The Greenlining Institute

 

CO

Community Resources & Housing Development Corporation

Denver Metro Fair Housing Center

Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver

Servicios de la Raza

 

CT

Connecticut Fair Housing Center

 

DC

NAACP, DC Chapter

 

DE

Central Baptist Community Development Corporation

Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council, Incorporated

Edgemoor Revitalization Cooperative, Incorporated

Richard Allen Coalition

 

FL

Affordable Homeownership Foundation

DebtHelper.com

Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches

Hope for Housing, Incorporated

Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence, Incorporated

Trinity Empowerment Consortium

 

GA

D&E

Metro Fair Housing Services, Incorporated

National Housing Counseling Agency

Savannah-Chatham County Fair Housing Council

 

HI

Hawai’i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development

Hawaiian Community Assets

 

IA

Scott County Housing Council

 

IL

Bernard Kleina Photography

Center for Changing Lives

Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance

Chicago Community Loan Fund

Global Network CDC

HOPE Fair Housing Center

Housing Action Illinois

Oak Park Regional Housing Center

South Suburban Housing Center

The Resurrection Project

U2Cando

Universal Housing Solutions CDC

Woodstock Institute

 

IN

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Gary

City of East Chicago Department of Redevelopment

Community Investment Fund of Indiana

Northwest Indiana Reinvestment Alliance

 

LA

Cenla Community Action Committee, Incorporated

Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center

 

MA

Alliance Of Cambridge Tenants

ESAC

Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance

Massachusetts Fair Housing Center

 

MD

Baltimore Neighborhoods, Incorporated

Housing Options & Planning Enterprises, Incorporated

 

MI

eHome America

Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit

Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan

Fair Housing Center of West Michigan

Financial Justice Coalition of Southeast Michigan

Michigan Community Reinvestment Coalition

 

MN

Asian Economic Development Association

Jewish Community Action

 

MO

BIG

Greater Kansas City Housing Information Center

Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council

National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Kansas City Missouri

R.A.A. – Ready, Aim, Advocate

 

MS

CFORM/Covenant Community Development Corporation

 

NC

Center for Responsible Lending

Durham Regional Financial Center

 

ND

North Dakota Economic Security and Prosperity Alliance

 

NJ

Fair Housing Council of Northern New Jersey

New Jersey Citizen Action

New Jersey Community Capital

 

NM

Southwest Neighborhood Housing Services

 

NY

Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development

Center for NYC Neighborhoods

CNY Fair Housing

Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation

Empire Justice Center

Fair Finance Watch

Long Island Housing Services, Incorporated

New Economy Project

PathStone Enterprise Center

Western New York Law Center

 

OH

Another Chance of Ohio

Business Research Group, University of Dayton

Central Ohio Fair Housing Association, Incorporated

City of Dayton Human Relations Council

City of Dayton, Ohio

City of South Euclid

Dayton Community Reinvestment Coalition

East End Community Services

Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People

Fair Housing Advocates Association

Fair Housing Resource Center, Incorporated

Greater Dayton Minority Business Assistance Center

Home Repair Resource Center

HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton

Homes on the Hill, CDC

Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, Incorporated

Northeast Ohio Alliance for Hope (NOAH)

The Housing Center

Toledo Fair Housing Center

Wesley Community Center Dayton

Working In Neighborhoods

YWCA Dayton

 

OR

CASA of Oregon

Radix Consulting Group LLC

 

PA

Housing Equality Center of Pennsylvania

Integra Home Counseling, Incorporated

Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group

 

TN

Tennessee Fair Housing Council

 

TX

Divine Direction Incorporated Consulting

Greater Houston Fair Housing Center

Harlingen CDC

North Texas Fair Housing Center

 

VA

Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Incorporated

 

WA

Northwest Fair Housing Alliance

Office of Rural and Farmworker Housing

 

WI

Community First, Incorporated

Housing Resources, Incorporated

Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee

Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing

NAACP Milwaukee Branch

Thomas Building Consulting Corporation

United Community Center

Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin, Incorporated

YWCA Southeast Wisconsin

[1]See GAO, Fair Lending: Data Limitations and the Fragmented U.S. Financial Regulatory Structure Challenge Federal Oversight and Enforcement Efforts, GAO-09-704 (Washington, D.C.: July 15, 2009); and Consumer Protection: Federal and State Agencies Face Challenges in Combating Predatory Lending, GAO-04-280 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 30, 2004). See also Adam J. Levitin, #2 (Georgetown Law Center: 2009).

[2] See Adam Levitin, Credit Slips Blog, “New HMDA Regs Require Banks to Collect Lots of Data….That They Already Have”. The data points the CFPB is requiring as a part of the final rule are basic information needed for loan underwriting, and in addition many are required for closing documents, included on the Uniform Residential Loan Application, required for Desktop Underwriter (Fannie Mae), Loan Prospector (Freddie Mac), or in order to obtain FHA insurance.

[3] Based on 2013 data, the CFPB estimates that updated reporting would be lost for 10 percent of loan records under a 500 closed-end loan volume threshold, and over 5,300 census tracts would lose 20 percent of the updated data about mortgage lending in their communities.  The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) estimated the loss of post-crisis data about loan originations by state and found states with large rural areas face some of the largest losses of updated data about mortgage originations.  Additional data would be lost about loan applications and why denials are occurring.  This map tool estimates the local impact on loan originations data: http://maps.ncrc.org/s1310/index.html.  H.R. 2954 would mean that communities would also know less about loan applications and denials.

[4] CFPB, HMDA Final Rule, Federal Register, Vol. 80, No. 208, p. 66282.

[5] Center for Responsible Lending, The Nation’s Housing Finance System Remains Closed To African?American, Hispanic, And Low?Income Consumers Despite Stronger National Economic Recovery In 2015  (September 2016).

[6] Urban Institute has published a number of studies on homeownership.  For example, see:  Are gains in black homeownership history? (February 14, 2017); Increasing access to mortgages for minorities (December 1, 2016).

[7] Todd M. Richards and Michael Williams, The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, A new lending gap?    (April 28, 2017).

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