WASHINGTON, DC—The National Association of Realtors® welcomed heads of key federal agencies tasked with leading the administration’s COVID-19 response Tuesday during the 2020 REALTORS® Virtual Legislative Meetings. U.S. Labor Department Secretary Eugene Scalia, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger and Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza offered insight into their respective entities’ role in federal coronavirus relief efforts.
Director Kraninger unveiled a new mortgage and housing assistance website during her remarks: cfpb.gov/housing. NAR joined a broad coalition in calling for the creation of such a resource last week. The site – developed alongside the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development – is designed to ensure homeowners and renters have the most up-to-date and accurate housing assistance information as they navigate the ongoing pandemic.
“The Bureau will be unveiling a unified, interagency housing website to be the one stop shop for consumers during this pandemic” Director Kraninger said. “The need is greatest for those who have experienced job loss or loss of income due to the pandemic… Struggling borrowers can request up to 180-days forbearance and if they still need assistance, they may request another 180 days. Additionally, if consumers do not have a federally-backed mortgage, many loan servicers have forbearance or deferment options for non-government backed or private loans.”
Kraninger, who became CFBP Director in December of 2018, noted the Bureau’s concern for homeowners currently facing unemployment and/or diminished household income. “We are monitoring the increases in the number of homeowners who need forbearance and the dips in the new mortgage inquiry numbers,” she continued. “This is of concern to many and I know we will all come together to weather this storm. After all, we have a common goal: mortgage transactions that turn out successfully for borrowers.”
Secretary Scalia touted the DOL’s role implementing the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, and recounted conversations with NAR regarding the groups’ shared support of association health plans.
“I was reminded that among the earlier meetings that I had as Secretary of Labor back in the fall was with your CEO, Bob Goldberg,” noted Scalia, who was sworn in as DOL Secretary in September of 2019. “We met and talked about the economy at the time…about association health plans… [which are] a way that small businesses and even the self-employed can come together and buy health care together, enjoying the leverage and the economies of scale that a large company does.”
Scalia noted that the Department’s AHP rule is designed to make it easier for professionals like Realtors® to “obtain more affordable health insurance. That rule was challenged in a court here in Washington, D.C. It was put on hold by the Court. We appealed that, argued it last fall and are awaiting the court’s decision…we certainly want to do all we can to get that program back up and running,” he continued.
Carranza’s SBA has been responsible for the rollout and implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, both created by the $2 trillion CARES Act signed into law at the end of March.
“As you know, this pandemic has been devastating for our nation’s 30 million small businesses, many of whom are here virtually with us today,” said Carranza, the SBA’s 26th Administrator. “At the outset of the coronavirus, the SBA – following the President’s leadership – established a tremendous public-private partnership with banks. We launched the Paycheck Protection Program one month ago, rolling out an extraordinary $349 billion, followed by an additional $310 in emergency capital to small businesses.”
Carranza, who also served as U.S. Treasurer, noted that the SBA processed 14 years’ worth of loans within 14 days of launching the PPP.
“Assisting many of you in the real estate industry, the PPP was created to bring quick relief to our amazing entrepreneurs to get them through this challenging time,” Carranza told thousands of Realtors® tuning in to hear her remarks. “Your work in real estate is indispensable to the American Dream. Families and small businesses rely on you to establish their homes and their places of business… We need your spirit of entrepreneurship, grit and kindness now more than ever before.”
Content from the 2020 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings is being offered at no cost to NAR members, ensuring all of America’s 1.4 million Realtors® are able to engage in and benefit from this week’s conference sessions. This year marks the first virtual iteration of NAR’s legislative meetings, which bring around 10,000 Realtors® to Washington, D.C every May. More than 22,000 had registered as of Tuesday afternoon.
“While Realtors® continue to find innovative ways to get Americans into new homes without jeopardizing public safety, NAR thanks Secretary Scalia, Director Kraninger and Administrator Carranza for taking the time to educate our members on their efforts to get our nation back to work and our economy growing again,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & C, Inc., in San Francisco, CA. “We’re grateful in particular for their efforts to secure the housing and commercial real estate markets, which represent nearly one fifth of our national GDP.”