New FHA Nominee is a ‘Housing Activist’ with a Mission to Modernize the FHA
The Biden administration announced its nominee for the position of federal housing commissioner of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and leader of the Federal Housing Administration at the end of June. Julia Gordon, current president of the National Community Stabilization Trust, has a history in the housing industry, thanks to experience managing the single-family policy team at the FHFA from 2011-2012 and serving as a member of the FHFA and HUD agency review team under the sitting president.
Gordon’s organization, which is a nonprofit that works to “restore vacant and abandoned properties to productive use and protect neighborhoods from blight,” gives her a “unique perspective on issues in the housing market,” said Bob Broeksmit, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, in response to the nomination. Broeksmit cited Gordon’s potential to “modernize the FHA” as one of the key benefits to her confirmation, should it occur. He said there remains “much-needed work to improve efficiency, instill certainty, and bring more lenders back to the FHA program” that Gordon could accomplish if she is confirmed.
At present, the FHA has no appointed commissioner since Dana Wade, a Trump appointee, stepped down from the position when President Biden took office in January 2021. Senior HUD official Janet Golrick currently serves as acting FHA commissioner. Wade’s brief track record as FHA commissioner (she was appointed in 2020) included the financing of about 11,000 rental properties and 3,000 mortgages for residential care facilities and hospitals. She also implemented an enhanced risk management program for the FHA’s $1.4 trillion portfolio. Wade returned to the private sector to serve as chief production officer for FHA-backed loan originations with HUD at Walker & Dunlop Inc. in March 2021.
Unlike Wade, whose resume included many positions within the government infrastructure prior to taking on the role of FHA commissioner, Gordon’s history in housing veers toward nonprofit experience and legal advisory work. Through her experience as the senior director of housing and consumer finance at the Center for American Program and her role as senior policy council at the Center for Responsible Lending, her take on the role of FHA commissioner will likely be one of housing advocacy and change from the outside in. The NCST emphasizes the need to prioritize “community development organizations” and “community-based buyers” in neighborhood revitalization efforts, so this could affect policies coming out of the FHA if she is confirmed.