President Donald Trump announced on December 11 his intention to nominate Mark Calabria, chief economist to Vice President Mike Pence, to be the new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) for a term of five years. The term of current FHFA Director Mel Watt expires on January 6, 2018. Mr. Watt has been a staunch supporter of the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF), the first new program in a generation dedicated to building and preserving homes for the lowest income people in America. The HTF is funded through a small assessment on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s books of business, and the FHFA oversees Fannie and Freddie. Mr. Calabria has in the past expressed support for investments in affordable housing for the lowest income households, including in a 2017 joint op-ed with NLIHC president and CEO Diane Yentel on the need to reform the mortgage interest deduction and reinvest the savings into deeply targeted housing solutions
Prior to his current position in the administration, Mr. Calabria was director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute. Before that, as a senior aide on the Senate Banking Committee, he was one of the lead drafters of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) which created the HTF and the FHFA. In addition, Mr. Calabria served as deputy assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at HUD during President George W. Bush’s administration and held positions with Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Association of Realtors.