Though President Donald Trump did not discuss housing in his first State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, he and members of his administration have expressed ongoing support for the HECM program throughout their tenure in Washington.
When President Trump published his fiscal year 2018 budget on May 25, 2017, the administration noted the role HECM plays improving seniors’ lives by stating, “the HECM program fills a special niche in the national mortgage market and offers critical opportunities for the nation’s seniors to utilize their own assets and resources to preserve their quality of life.”
Last July, Housing Secretary Ben Carson addressed LeadingAge Florida, one of the state’s oldest and largest senior advocacy groups, in which he underscored his commitment to supporting HUD programs, such as HECM, that promote healthy living and financial independence. He acknowledged the growing popularity of reverse mortgages but also the challenges caused by seniors accessing the maximum amount of their equity upfront, leaving them without sufficient resources to pay their taxes or insurance. Carson reassured attendees that steps had been taken to protect consumers — including amendments to the non-borrowing spouse rules, Financial Assessment and draw limits.
Several months later, testifying before the House Financial Services Committee on October 13, Secretary Carson said he would consider adopting better tools for FHA to assess and manage risk in the HECM program, including the creation of a separate insurance fund just for HECMs. “Those are things worth pursuing,” said Secretary Carson, in response to a question raised by Rep. Dennis Heck (D-WA).
When FHA’s Annual Report to Congress was released in November, HUD issued a press release that noted, “FHA’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), or reverse mortgage program, continues to serve eligible seniors, 62 years and older, with a financing option that can help them remain in their home and age in place.”
And just last week, NRMLA’s Executive Committee met with HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Single Family Housing Gisele Roget, who reiterated the continued support of the HECM program from the highest levels.
NRMLA will continue to work closely with HUD and Congress to support and sustain HECM, which more than a million senior households have used to supplement retirement savings and age in place.