Incoming Senate Banking Chairman Lays Out Priorities, Including Focus on Housing
United States Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who will become Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs after the Senate flipped to Democratic control, recently revealed that while banking policy has been a focus of the committee’s efforts over the past several years, he also plans to concentrate on housing issues as part of the committee’s portfolio.
“Housing was a word left out of this committee’s title for far too many years and it won’t be left out anymore,” Brown said in a press release. “Housing determines so much in peoples’ lives. It determines closeness to a grocery store. It determines the school district your children live in.”
According to American Banker, Brown’s main priority ⎯the “whole federal government’s first priority”⎯ is to ensure that residents will not be evicted amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and in the middle of winter.
Another area of concern for the Senator is why lenders seem to focus their refinancing efforts on higher-income borrowers. “The average person that refinances has a much higher income than the average person who holds a mortgage that has not refinanced,” Brown stated.
Additionally, Brown hopes to concentrate on climate and racial justice in the financial system, and to broaden access to financial services for underserved communities. To accomplish this, Brown anticipates holding big banks and technology firms more accountable for their impact on consumers.
Brown has also proposed giving consumers free FedAccount digital wallets, which would give them access to stimulus checks and other types of governmental aid. He said that the FedAccounts “will be administering in some way these no-fee bank accounts. It costs a lot of money to be poor. You have to pay to cash a paycheck when you go to a local bank often.”