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ICBA to Congress: Housing Reform Must Preserve Community Bank Access

Washington, DC — The Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) today told Congress that any reforms to the housing-finance system must preserve equal and direct access to the secondary market for community banks. Sam Vallandingham, president and CEO of The First State Bank in Barboursville, W.Va., told the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance that reforms to government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should promote beneficial competition and avoid dangerous concentration in the mortgage lending industry.

“The stakes involved in getting housing-finance market policies right have never been higher,” Vallandingham said. “ICBA’s approach to GSE reform is simple: use what’s in place today and is working and focus reform on aspects of the current system that are not working or that put taxpayers at risk.”

In today’s testimony, Vallandingham laid out ICBA’s principles for GSE reform, including:

• allowing the government-sponsored enterprises to rebuild their capital buffers,

• providing competitive, equal and direct access to the market on a single-loan basis,

• reducing the risks posed to the GSEs by credit-risk transfers, and

• ensuring an explicit, paid-for government guarantee of GSE mortgage-backed securities and strong oversight from a single regulator.

Vallandingham also outlined needed administrative and legislative reforms to move forward, urging:

• the Federal Housing Finance Agency to end the GSEs’ net-worth sweep, establish capital-restoration plans, and delay the launch of its Uniform Mortgage Backed Security until the GSEs are recapitalized and released from conservatorship, and

• Congress to create a catastrophic mortgage insurance fund for GSE securities and change the GSEs to regulated and shareholder-owned financial utilities.

Vallandingham’s testimony is available on the ICBA website.

The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for more than 5,700 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org.

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