Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
VA Home Loan 75th Anniversary Ceremony Remarks
Washington, D.C., National Press Club, Holeman Lounge, June 5, 2019
As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.
Thank you, Paul [Under Secretary for Benefits Dr. Paul Lawrence]. It is an honor to be with you here today to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the GI Bill – first established by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1944.
President Roosevelt famously told us that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” – and thanks to the GI Bill, our brave soldiers on the battlefield have a few less things to worry about upon their return to civilian life, after their courageous duty to our country has been served. The GI Bill is positively impacting millions of men and women through education, medical funding, and home loans.
It is in this area of home loans that HUD is proud to have made such a profound impact on the lives of our nation’s veterans and one we will continue to build into the future. Much of that success can be attributed to the symbiosis that occurs between the VA’s home loan guaranty program and Ginnie Mae, an agency that provides liquidity support to the nation’s housing market.
Although much of our country’s current mortgage volume is handled by the two giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the work of the VA and Ginnie Mae is enormous, and no less important.
The VA affects millions of families in the United States, representing hundreds of billions of dollars in Ginnie Mae investments.
Ginnie Mae has a portfolio of $2 trillion [dollars] in mortgage-backed securities that provide crucial support to all Americans – and veterans in particular – through more than 2.9 million loans issued to veteran homebuyers.
The presence and execution of the VA home loan guaranty program, with Ginnie Mae as their source of liquidity, instills continuity and confidence in our housing markets when those virtues come in short supply. They fulfill a critical mission for our country – ensuring steady funding for veterans, which count among them so many brave veterans on their road back to civilian life.
We are fortunate to have Acting President Maren Kasper at the helm of Ginnie Mae, who is here with us today. Maren has done a great job, and we are grateful for her insight and steady leadership.
At HUD, we understand that a strong secondary market is critical for homeowners, and the VA. And we are committed to ensuring the strong safety and soundness of both Ginnie Mae and the VA’s program to protect taxpayers and bolster homeownership opportunities for our nation’s veterans, which is why we have implemented a broad array of reforms to bolster their financial future.
By keeping mortgages accessible to hardworking Americans and veterans, HUD’s programs strive to Make Housing Affordable Again. And while the tremendous debt we owe to our nation’s brothers and sisters in arms may never be fully repaid, we can and will do everything in our power to leverage the benefits of the GI Bill and HUD’s programs to provide quality, affordable homes for Americans of all stripes. This includes the work that both of our Departments do to combat loan churning of our veteran borrowers, which adds unnecessary costs and risk to these veteran homeowners and taxpayer backing the VA and Ginnie Mae programs. I commend the teams for their accomplishments to date, but know there is more to be done – and I encourage collaboration to continue to eradicate this behavior from our programs.
To this end, HUD has made tremendous strides toward increasing the availability of homes for our nation’s heroes. Nationwide, the total number of reported homeless veterans decreased by more than five percent last year, and has decreased by roughly half since 2010 — prompting 71 communities across 33 different states to declare an effective end to veteran homelessness in their areas. Three states — Virginia, Connecticut and Delaware — have declared an effective end to veteran homelessness altogether, which means that more veterans are securing more affordable and higher quality homes. Each year, HUD is proud to serve more than a million people through emergency shelter, transitional, and permanent housing programs. With rents rising faster than incomes in many parts of the country, however, we need to bring everybody to the table to produce more affordable housing and ease the pressure that still is forcing too many of our country’s servicemen and women out of the housing market. This is not solely a federal problem — it’s everybody’s problem, one that we need to work together to solve.
During this month of June – which has been designated by President Trump as National Homeownership Month – we are reminded that homes are not simply physical structures – they are social, cultural, and economic engines. They are where families are raised, and communities are interconnected.
Accomplishing this mission is a team effort, and we are lucky to have such wonderful teammates in the form of the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the private sector partners who tirelessly work by our side. Our deepest gratitude goes out to these partners who are indeed on the front lines of America’s fight for prosperity.
May God bless our brave men and women who serve, their families, and all those who uphold the strength and freedom of these United States – the great nation we call home.