Statement: USMI Applauds the U.S. Senate Banking Committee’s Approval of Mark Calabria as the New Director of Federal Housing Finance Agency—Urges Quick Senate Floor Consideration

WASHINGTON Lindsey Johnson, President of U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI), today issued the following statement on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee’s confirmation of Dr. Mark Calabria as the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director: 

“USMI applauds the Senate Banking Committee’s approval of Dr. Mark Calabria to serve as the next FHFA Director. Dr. Calabria’s extensive public service and deep understanding of the mortgage finance system will serve the Agency, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “GSEs”), market participants, and homebuyers well.

“Dr. Calabria has long been an advocate for greater taxpayer protection against mortgage credit risk, including the use of private mortgage insurance to guard taxpayers and the federal government from financial risk on low down payment lending. We are confident that Dr. Calabria will continue to recognize the importance of private mortgage insurance in the conventional mortgage market both in helping creditworthy low down payment borrowers qualify for home financing, while also protecting American taxpayers from undue mortgage credit risk. Over the last 60 years, private MI has helped more than 30 million individuals become homeowners. Right now, private mortgage insurance protection is the only source of private capital that is permanently dedicated to standing in a first-loss position in front of the GSEs and taxpayers on GSE-backed mortgages, through various credit cycles.

“USMI looks forward to working closely with Dr. Calabria to ensure that borrowers continue to have competitive options for low down payment mortgage finance credit in the conventional market and to protect taxpayers even further. USMI urges a quick Senate Floor vote and support for Dr. Calabria. For more than 60 years, private mortgage insurers have played a leading role in promoting affordable and sustainable homeownership and we look forward to building upon this important mission in the future.”


U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI) is dedicated to a housing finance system backed by private capital that enables access to housing finance for borrowers while protecting taxpayers. Mortgage insurance offers an effective way to make mortgage credit available to more people. USMI is ready to help build the future of homeownership. Learn more at

Op-Ed: Private insurance plays a critical part in home mortgage ecosystem





By Lindsey Johnson


Housing finance reform remains a priority in Washington. Earlier this month, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) released a proposal to reform the government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Like many other proposals, including House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters’ (D-Calif.) HOME Forward draft legislation, Chairman Crapo’s proposal recognizes the important role that private capital — and specifically private mortgage insurance — serves to facilitate homeownership for low down-payment borrowers and protect taxpayers from mortgage credit risk.

The nominee for director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mark Calabria, recently appeared before the Senate Banking Committee as part of his confirmation process. He’s an individual who appreciates the benefits that private mortgage insurance extends beyond protecting the government and taxpayers.

Private mortgage insurance remains the longest serving, time-tested way to help low down-payment borrowers qualify for home financing in the conventional market.

Our nation’s mortgage finance system is one that must balance access to credit for consumers while also shielding taxpayers. Fortunately, private mortgage insurance is uniquely and permanently dedicated to serving both objectives through all economic cycles. As such, it should remain a critical piece of any future, reformed system.

Access to affordable, low down-payment mortgages is understandably top-of-mind for many policymakers. While there is an important role for government and taxpayer-backed programs to play in the broader system, any comprehensive reform should first encourage the greater use of private capital that ensures access to affordable low down-payment mortgages in the conventional market.

Fortunately, there is generally bipartisan agreement around this principle. Facilitating this kind of mortgage lending is precisely the purpose of private mortgage insurance, which has helped more than 30 million families secure home loans over the last six decades — many of whom were first-time or middle-income homebuyers.

Last year, more than 1 million homeowners qualified to purchase or refinance their home thanks to private mortgage insurance. Of these homeowners, nearly 60 percent were first-time homebuyers and more than 40 percent had incomes below $75,000.

Congressional leaders and the Trump administration must reform the housing finance system into one that works for all Americans by protecting taxpayers while also ensuring access to affordable mortgage financing.

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies projected that the U.S. would add 13.6 million households between 2015 and 2025, which means affordable low down-payment options must be part of the equation.

Mortgage insurance companies support the government-sponsored enterprises and mortgage lenders in the origination of low- to moderate- income mortgage programs that address affordable housing needs of local communities.

The private mortgage insurance industry stands ready to continue its role as the solution to enable millions of families to achieve homeownership.

A version of this op-ed originally appeared in The Hill on February 17, 2019.

Newsletter: February 2019

As the 116th Congress settles in, there has already been a lot of housing finance activity. Yesterday, the Senate Banking Committee (SBC) held a hearing on the nomination of Mark Calabria to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA); while on Wednesday the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) held a hearing on housing challenges, most notably homelessness. Recently, the chairs of both of these committees each outlined their priorities for housing finance reform.  The FHFA also decided to no longer defend the constitutionality of its structure in court, amid an ongoing lawsuit filed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “GSEs”) shareholders. Finally, as this is our first Roundup in 2019, we highlight that at the end of 2018, USMI President Lindsey Johnson testified along with other trade association and nonprofit executives before the HFSC on bipartisan housing finance proposals.

  • Senate Banking holds confirmation hearing on FHFA Director nominee, Mark Calabria. On February 14, the SBC held a hearing on Mark Calabria’s nomination to serve as FHFA Director. At the hearing, Dr. Calabria expressed his intent to make the FHFA a “world class regulator” and promote a “well capitalized, strong system that preserves the 30-year mortgage and does provide access to affordable housing.” While he acknowledged that the FHFA can take certain actions to strengthen the GSEs, Dr. Calabria stressed that fundamental changes to the housing finance system must be done by Congress. During exchanges with members of the Committee, Dr. Calabria stated his support for moving away from a system that privatizes gains while socializing losses and explained that the ultimate goal should be a framework with sufficient capital and regulation that allows the GSEs to facilitate affordable housing for creditworthy borrowers. USMI released a statement on Dr. Calabria’s nomination, which can be found here.
  • Senate Banking Chairman Crapo releases GSE reform outline. SBC Chairman Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) housing reform outline serves as a blueprint for comprehensive bipartisan reform efforts. It builds off of other proposals that put into place “multiple private guarantors” to guarantee the timely repayment of principal and interest to investors of eligible mortgages that are securitized through a platform operated by Ginnie Mae. The outline also requires, among other things, that the FHFA establish a capital requirement for all approved guarantors and require that all private guarantors engage in credit risk transfer. In a statement, USMI noted that “the reform plan covers many areas and [USMI] is particularly pleased that Chairman Crapo recognizes the importance and value of private mortgage insurance in enabling access to low down payment conventional mortgages while protecting taxpayers at least to the levels that they are protected today.”
  • House Financial Services holds hearing on housing challenges. On February 13, the HFSC held a hearing that examined housing challenges in rural communities, including homelessness, rental housing, and homeownership, as well as legislative proposals to address aspects of these issues. As Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) noted, the hearing marked the “very first time that the full committee has convened a hearing focused entirely on homelessness” and discussed a bill that she introduced last congress that would allocate more than $13 billion over five years to programs to prevent homelessness. Chairwoman Waters is expected to reintroduce the bill this Congress. This will be a priority for the HFSC in the 116th Congress and Chairwoman Waters emphasized the need for “proactive solutions to ensure that every American has a safe, affordable place to call home.”
  • House Financial Services Chairwoman Waters releases housing finance reform priorities. Chairwoman Waters similarly outlined her agenda for housing reform, which seeks to address the longtime conservatorship of the GSEs. Notably, she highlighted the importance of private mortgage insurance (MI) in any future reformed system, stating that one of her main priorities is to ensure “sufficient private capital is in place to protect taxpayers.” The list of principles also includes requiring transparency to ensure a level playing field for all financial institutions and maintaining access for all qualified borrowers that can sustain homeownership. HFSC Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC) sent a letter to Waters requesting she convene hearings in critical areas including on “government-sponsored enterprises and the role of the federal government in mortgage finance to explore paths to ending the government conservatorship of Fannie Maeand Freddie Mac” and the “continued oversight of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and its Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) Accounting Standard.”
  • Government changes course on question of FHFA constitutionality. Recently, the FHFA filed a supplemental brief with the S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stating that it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the FHFA’s single-director leadership structure in court. This ruling comes as the result of a lawsuit brought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders who have challenged the structure of the FHFA and the so-called “Third Amendment Sweep” by the Treasury Department. In July 2018, the federal appeals court reversed a previous court’s decision and agreed with shareholders that the FHFA’s structure was unconstitutional.
  • USMI’s President testifies before Congress. At the end of December, Lindsey Johnson testified before the HFSC in a hearing entitled “A Legislative Proposal to Provide for a Sustainable Housing Finance System: The Bipartisan Housing Finance Reform Act of 2018;” a bill introduced by former HFSC Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and Reps. John Delaney (D-MD) and Jim Himes (D-CT).  USMI’s testimony addressed several important housing finance topics and discussed the role private MI can play in a reformed housing finance system, specifically in enabling homeownership while protecting taxpayers and the government from mortgage credit risk. She also highlighted key improvements to the industry that make it more resilient going forward.  Specific to the draft legislation, Johnson provided several observations including that private MI is compatible with most proposals for reform because it is done at the loan level, and therefore the credit protection travels with the loan from the first day it is originated whether the loan is placed onto a lenders’ balance sheet, sold to an investor, or sold into a securitization pool. USMI’s testimony also provided several recommendations for the draft legislation, chief among them that any proposal should rely on loan level credit enhancement done by entities that can manage mortgage credit risk through all market cycles. During the hearing, Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) touted the value of MI stating: “I certainly agree that we need more PMI and we need more credit risk transfers, and the more private capital that we can get in here, the better. Even if we do need a federal guaranty, let’s make sure that private capital has a robust first lost position.” The full list of witnesses and their testimonies can be found here.

Statement: Senate Banking Committee Chairman’s Outline for Reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

WASHINGTON — Lindsey Johnson, President of U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI), today issued the following statement on the outline released today by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) on proposed reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) and the housing finance system:

“Today Chairman Crapo released a thoughtful outline to reform the GSEs in order to put the housing finance system on more stable footing. The reform plan covers many areas and USMI is particularly pleased that Chairman Crapo recognizes the importance and value of private mortgage insurance in enabling access to low down payment conventional mortgages while protecting taxpayers at least to the levels that they are protected today.  Ten years after conservatorship of the GSEs, it is essential that meaningful reforms be done to better protect taxpayers and to ensure consumers will have access to mortgage finance credit through all market cycles.

“USMI is pleased to see Chairman Crapo provide these ideas for reform and we look forward to working with his office and the Committee on the details of these concepts.  We are committed to working with the Senate, House, and the Administration to promote reforms that put more private capital in front of taxpayer risk and to create a more sustainable housing finance system that works for consumers, market participants, and taxpayers.

“For more than 60 years, MI has provided effective credit risk protection for our nation’s mortgage finance system and helped 30 million families become homeowners.  This time-tested form of private capital stands ready to continue minimizing taxpayer risk while ensuring that mortgage credit remains accessible and affordable.”


U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI) is dedicated to a housing finance system backed by private capital that enables access to housing finance for borrowers while protecting taxpayers. Mortgage insurance offers an effective way to make mortgage credit available to more people. USMI is ready to help build the future of homeownership. Learn more at