As a new senior housing adviser to the Obama administration, USC's Richard Green said one of his top priorities is to make home ownership more possible for groups who've historically had trouble getting loans, such as immigrants.
His work in the Southern California region, as the Director of USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate, is informing his role at the Department of Housing and Urban Development where he will advise on housing financing.
"I’m convinced there are people who are safe credit risks who are not getting mortgage credit right now," Green said.
This includes newer immigrants "who may have paid their bills their whole lives before they came to the United States."
"There’s no record of that history yet they could be very good people to lend money to," he said.
Green would also like to see lenders extend home loans to applicants who live in multi-generational households.
"Latino households, Asian households — there’s a greater tendency for these households to be multi-generational," Green said. "And what that means is, there are several sources of income coming in the door."
Lenders became tighter-gripped after the recession, and Green said it's become too hard for some people to get mortgages.
Green said self-employed workers also unfairly face a difficult time.
"There’s a fear that their income is not steady from year to year, that there is somehow a greater risk," Green said.
Some analysts warn about making it too easy to get mortgages but Green said "we're not even close to that." As evidence, he points out that federal lender Fannie Mae is making a lot of money.
"Why is that? It’s because their fees are high, and because they’re underwriting mortgages so tightly," Green said. "The typical FICO score for a Fannie Mae loan is in the 700s. And 700 is excellent credit."
Green will also advise on rental housing. He said the affordability crisis for renters in Southern California is spurring him to examine the state of rental housing nationwide.
"While it’s particularly bad in Southern California in terms of how high rents are relative to incomes, the fact of the matter is that this is an issue throughout the country," he said.
Green replaces Edward Golding who recently took the reins of the Federal Housing Administration. Green isn't planning a similar trajectory. He said he’s returning to USC after his year is up at HUD.