MReport November 2019

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58 | M R EP O RT O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T THE LATEST GOVERNMENT Judging the Constitutionality of the CFPB A California law firm argues that the agency grants too much power to its director. T he U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a California law firm that argues the Consumer Financial Protec- tion Bureau is unconstitutionally structured, positioning the justices to settle longstanding questions surrounding the legitimacy of the independent agency. The law firm, Seila Law, alleges that the structure of the agency grants too much power to its director. According to court pa- pers, given the CFPB's broad law enforcement powers, the fact that the president may only remove the director of the CFPB "for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office" is unconsti- tutional. In May, the CFPB beat Seila Law before a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "Seila Law contends that an agency with the CFPB's broad law-enforcement powers may not be headed by a single Director removable by the President only for cause. That argument is not without force," Circuit Judge Paul Watford wrote for the court. CNBC reports that a decision in the case is likely by the end of June. Last year, in a split decision, a Washington appeals court has reversed a previous ruling, declaring the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to be constitutional after all. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in January 2018 that the CFPB's structure is constitutional and that the director of the agency can only be fired by the president for "inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office." The court's ruling read, in part, "None of the theories advanced by PHH supports its claim that the CFPB is different in kind from the other independent agen- cies and, in particular, traditional independent financial regulators." On the subject of whether the CFPB director can be removed by the president without cause, the rul- ing read, "The CFPB's authority is not of such character that removal protection of its Director necessarily interferes with the President's Article II duty or prerogative. The CFPB is neither distinctive nor novel in any respect that calls its constitutional- ity into question. Because none of PHH's challenges is grounded in constitutional precedent or principle, we uphold the agency's structure." Officials: Cities 'Failing Badly' in Access to Homeownership City leaders from several states said more needs to be done to improve the path to the American Dream. C ommentary from city leaders of Minnesota and New York said that all Americans should have access to homeownership, but "we are failing badly" at achieving this ideal, according to insight from City Lab. "In Brooklyn and Minneapolis, where we are city council members, skyrocketing prices push families out of the neighbor- hoods where they've lived for years," the commentary said. "It's impossible for young people to find a place to rent, much less own. Homelessness is at record levels, and in cities like Detroit, as many as one in five renters face eviction, part of a nationwide eviction epidemic." The authors of the piece—Lisa Bender, President of the Minneapolis City Council and Brad Lander, Deputy leader for policy for the New York City Council—are members of Local Progress and last week began a three-day event in Durham, North Carolina, to address housing issues. Local Progress is a national network of "progressive elected officials" from cities and other local governments across the country. "Seventy years ago, the Housing Act of 1949 set the goal "of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American," but it has been decades since Washington was of any real help on afford- able housing," the authors wrote. The commentary adds that the removal of exclusionary zoning and building more housing is necessary to address the "imbal- ance of supply and demand," but alone will not solve for displacement and eviction. A report by the Los Angeles Times re- veals that single-family zoning in California will soon be a thing of the past, as legisla- tion is making it easier for homeowners to convert garages into residential spaces and freestanding homes. "We're on the precipice of single-family zoning functionally not existing," said Ben Metcalf, former Director of the state's Department of Housing and Community Development. Durham, North Carolina, in September amended ordinances for higher density, "undoing decades-old vestigaes" of dis- crimination that have prevented African- Americans from owning homes. The ordinance, known as "Expanding Housing Choices," amends zoning rules in areas near downtown to allow for higher density. City and county planners believe this could stabilize home prices as the market grows. Oregon's HB 2001 went into effect on August 8, and mandates that cities with a population of more than or equal to 25,000 to allow middle-housing types on lots previously earmarked for the development of detached single-family housing.

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