The House of Representatives late Tuesday approved legislation to beef up the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) program — including a provision that encourages the Obama administration to provide support for warehouse lending.

The 21st Century FHA Housing Act gives the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary more flexibility to appoint and fix the compensation for FHA personnel and to fund technology projects to replace FHA's aging information systems.

Passed on a voice vote, the bill (H.R. 3146) also expresses the sense of Congress that the Treasury Department.

HUD and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) should work together to provide financial support and assistance to increase warehouse lending capacity to non-banks.

The National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Realtors and Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) supported the bill.

David Kittle, CMB, chairman of the MBA yesterday issued a statement following passage in the House of Representatives of H.R. 3527, the FHA Multifamily Loan Limit Adjustment Act and H.R. 3146.

The statement read:"Passage of these two bills is further indication that the House is playing a proactive role in helping people who are being impacted by the current turbulence in the housing market. Increasing the multifamily loan limits for structures with elevators is an important step to growing this country's supply of affordable rental housing in urban areas. The increased limits will make it possible for developers to obtain financing to build and rehabilitate high-rise housing. Additionally, providing more resources for staffing and technology at FHA will allow that agency to continue to play its critical role in helping borrowers who may not have sterling credit or are unable to make a large down payment. FHA needs to be able to hire and retain top quality staff and utilize 21st century technology if it is going to meet the growing demand for its products and adequately manage risks to its programs. And finally, we are gratified to see Congress go on record in stating that HUD, Treasury and the FHFA ought to use their existing statutory and regulatory authority to help solve the crisis in warehouse lending. Independent mortgage lenders, who rely on warehouse lending, provide between 25% and 40% of all mortgage financing. Without adequate warehouse lines, these lenders may cease to exist, drawing precious capacity out of the mortgage market at a time when we need mortgage financing more than ever. We hope the Senate will consider these bills quickly."

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