Homeownership Symposium - Rethinking Duties to Serve in Housing Finance

Adam Levitin, Janneke Ratcliffe

HBTL-12: If the housing crisis has had a silver lining, it is the opportunity to rethink our housing finance policy. The US housing finance system and its regulation evolved to address particular crises and problems—the Great Depression, the post-War housing crunch, the 1960s budget crises, redlining, the savings and loan crisis—rather than as a planned, comprehensive system.   As the mortgage finance market is restructured in the wake of the recent financial crisis, it is essential to ensure that it better serves the housing needs of all Americans. Thus, an important question going forward concerns the role of duties to serve (DTS)—obligations on lending institutions to reach out to traditionally underserved communities and borrowers. Should there be DTS, and if so, who should have the responsibility to serve whom, with what, and how?