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Reagan's housing panel raises storm of protest

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Last June President Reagan created a special advisory group, the President's Commission on Housing, to study and recommend steps that would ease the plight of home buyers and sellers and aid the troubled housing industry.

Its preliminary report now has sparked a storm of controversy and protests within the industry it was set up to help.

The 30-member commission (increased from 25 members in late January), advocates steps that are heavily weighted toward helping the lending institutions, not home-buying consumers or the housing industry, in the view of many real-estate leaders. At this writing, this wave of protest is accelerating.

''The commission's preliminary report clearly represents the interests of thrift institutions,'' charges Jack Carlson, executive vice-president of the National Association of Realtors. ''After experiencing the worst depression in housing since the 1930's, with a 52 percent dropoff in sales from peak to trough , we need and should have at least equal time and treatment from the commission, '' he says.

William F. McKenna, chairman of the commission, strongly defends his group's preliminary report and recommendations.

''Our suggested reforms would strengthen the vitality of thrift institutions and channel more funds into the mortgage-finance market,'' he asserts.

Further, he adds: ''This is strictly a preliminary report we have issued. We are still receiving and considering input from many sources and will not complete a final report until late April. That report, which will be nearly 600 pages of information and recommendations, will probably satisfy the real-estate people.''

The preliminary recommendations issued by the commission included major reforms in the operating powers of savings and loan (S&L) associations and other lenders.

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