Biden Appoints New FHFA Acting Director

U.S. Supreme Court building

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The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced late Wednesday that President Biden has appointed Sandra Thompson as the agency’s acting director. Thompson has served as the deputy director of the Division of Housing Mission and Goals (DHMG) since 2013.

The appointment comes after the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the leadership structure at the Federal Housing Finance Agency is unconstitutional. The high court made the decision that removal limitations preventing the FHFA director from being fired by the president only “for cause” (i.e., neglect or misconduct), were in violation of the separation of powers.

As a result, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the director can be fired at will by the president.

In response, Biden removed FHFA Director Mark Calabria on Wednesday and replaced him with Thompson, who the administration expects to be a better reflection of its priorities in the housing finance policy space. Calabria, who has served as FHFA director since April 2019, was appointed by former President Donald Trump.

The National Association of REALTORS® President Charlie Oppler released a statement Wednesday in response to Thompson’s appointment: “America's REALTORS® congratulate Sandra Thompson on her appointment to lead the FHFA. We know that her experience at DHMG and the commitment she's shown to incorporating feedback from across the industry will serve the agency well in the effort to protect the safety and soundness of our nation's housing finance system. We look forward to continuing our work with the Acting Director as we seek to ensure all U.S. homebuyers, especially those in underserved communities, have access to affordable mortgage credit.”

Thompson responded to her appointment by stating, “I look forward to serving in this role at this crucial time. As a longtime regulator, I am committed to making sure our nation’s housing finance systems and our regulated entities operate in a safe and sound manner. We can accomplish this, and at the same time have a laser focus on mission and community investment. There is a widespread lack of affordable housing and access to credit, especially in communities of color. It is FHFA’s duty through our regulated entities to ensure that all Americans have equal access to safe, decent, and affordable housing.”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—which FHFA oversees—owns or guarantees about $6 trillion in residential mortgages.