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A Phil Hall Op-Ed: For some reason, I wasn’t invited to be a moderator at Wednesday’s Republican presidential primary debate – obviously, I need to talk to Rupert Murdoch about that oversight. However, if I was in the position to ask questions of the individuals seeking the party’s nomination, I would present a series of inquiries relating to housing policy concerns.

To be specific, here are five questions that I would like to see the candidates answer.

1. What is your plan for GSE reform? Next month marks the 15th anniversary of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac being put into federal conservatorship. This was supposed to be a temporary measure, but at this point in time it appears to have become part of the Beltway status quo. Since President Biden has offered no solutions to the problem, I would like to know what ideas (if any) the candidates have to share about ending conservatorship and starting the next chapter for the government-sponsored enterprises.

2. What is the role of the presidential administration in addressing the rising level of homelessness? The U.S. has seen a record increase in homeless people this year, according to a Wall Street Journal data analysis that determined an 11% year-over-year spike in homelessness – the biggest recorded increase since the government started tracking comparable numbers in 2007. In some cities, large sections have been taken over by shantytowns where homeless people have taken up residence. I would like to know what plans (if any) the candidates have to handle the rising level of homelessness – or do they believe this is a municipal problem for the cities to solve?

3. What can be done to reverse the evaporation of affordable homeownership? For too many years, affordable homeownership opportunities have been disappearing – and this year, with elevated mortgage rates and a shrinking inventory, homeownership affordability has declined to dramatic lows. I would like to hear what the candidates would recommend for addressing the absence of affordable homeownership opportunities.

4. What can be done to increase the Black homeownership rate? Today’s homeownership rate among Black Americans is 44%, compared to a 65.5% national average, and it has only increased 0.4% in the last 10 years. There have been endless programs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), state and local agencies and the private sector, designed to increase the Black homeownership rate, but success is elusive. I would like to know what the candidates suggest can be done to enable more Black Americans to enjoy the ability to become homeowners.

5. Who do you plan to appoint as your HUD secretary? For too many years, the HUD job has been given to people with little or no housing experience. Instead, it has been misused as a steppingstone for up-and-coming political stars (Henry Cisneros, Andrew Cuomo, Mel Martinez, Julian Castro) and it sometimes gets handed to a president’s one-time rival (Jack Kemp, Ben Carson) or political ally (Steve Preston and current secretary Marcia Fudge) as a token of appreciation. I would like to know if the candidates had anyone in mind for the HUD position and/or if they had a specific checklist for filling this job.

Phil Hall is editor of Weekly Real Estate News. He can be reached at