Authors: Kerry D. Vandell
Fannie Mae Foundation
This article evaluates problems of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) under its current structure, develops criteria for judging alternative structures, and suggests one alternative--an assigned risk pool--that encourages efficiency in the insurance function while still promoting low- and moderate-income housing. A historical introduction explains how the current institutional relationships came about and created FHA's problems. FHA's decline resulted from the mixing of a heavy social agenda with the basic insurance objective, a destructive reorganization of the Department of Housing and Urban Development that caused FHA to lose control and focus, and government's inherent inability to respond to market signals. Yet the economic rationale for government involvement in FHA functions is strong. An FHA organized as an independent government agency, a government-sponsored enterprise, or even a privatized entity structured as an assigned risk pool could improve efficiency of underwriting, pricing, and administration while achieving the redistributional objectives.
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