HUD Prepared Remarks at MBA 100th Annual Conference

On October 28, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 100th Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

Remarks of Secretary Shaun Donovan at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s 100th Annual Conference

As prepared for delivery

Thank you, Dave (Stevens), for that very kind introduction and for your leadership.

In light of recent events here in Washington, I can’t imagine that you miss your time in government too much. But, we miss you at HUD and it’s great to see you today.

Please allow me to also thank all of you with the Mortgage Bankers Association.

You play a critically important role in our economy, our nation and our future.

And it’s truly an honor to be here with you this morning to kick off your Annual Conference, especially as you celebrate this milestone anniversary.

I know that the members of this organization have seen some extraordinary things over the past 100 years. But it’s hard to imagine any period quite like the last five.

Fighting Our Way Back

Back in the fall of 2008, we saw Lehman Brothers collapse.  Every day, there was a new rumor that more trouble was on the way.  It felt like the entire financial system was close to caving.

At the time, I was a Commissioner for Mayor Bloomberg in New York City.  As many of you know, he has a bullpen setup, with no walls, so that his leadership team can easily interact and collaborate together.

As part of this setup, there is a giant TV screen, which has a ticker listing updates from across the city, like the number of complaints that have been answered and the number of potholes that have been filled.

And on the day the House of Representatives took its initial vote to rescue the financial industry, I vividly remember all of us gathering around the TV to watch.  When it became clear that the measure had failed, Mayor Bloomberg uttered four words that I’ll never forget: “the world is ending.”

Indeed, the events of that time led to the worst economic crisis that most of us have ever seen.  When President Obama took office in 2009, the housing market was in free-fall.

Home prices had fallen nearly 20 percent from the year before: the largest one-year drop ever measured. Roughly three million borrowers were seriously delinquent.  Construction projects and plans came to a halt – causing the industry to lose 100,000 jobs a month.

Across the board, we saw dramatic declines. And of course, these drops represented more than shifting numbers on a spreadsheet. They represented people’s lives, savings and struggles.

So when the President and I took office, we set in place a number of priorities which still guide us today.

One, to provide immediate assistance to those in need.  Two, to work with public and private sector partners to strengthen the housing market and help fuel an overall economic recovery. And three, to ensure a crisis of this magnitude never happens again.

Let me start with the first goal: providing immediate assistance to those in need.  When I last spoke at your Annual Conference in 2011, I told you about a number of initiatives we undertook to help families and heal the market.

Although the crisis has eased, I’m proud to report we keep pushing for progress.

Back then, I told you that we had helped 5.1 million responsible families stay in their homes through mortgage modifications. Today, that number is over 7 million.

Back then, we had just launched HARP 2.0. In the time since, the number of homeowners who have refinanced through the effort has soared from 400,000 to 2.8 million as of July.  I also mentioned our Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which addresses the foreclosed and abandoned properties that often hold back communities trying to rebuild.

Today, I’m proud to say that $7 billion has been allocated to neighborhoods in all 50 states to refurbish these properties, turning blight into progress.  In fact, in more than 70% of these neighborhoods, vacancies are down and home prices are up compared to similar communities.

And during the most trying times, the Federal Housing Administration stepped up to keep capital flowing and stabilize the market.  Of course, taking on such a big role carried costs, and FHA recently took a mandatory appropriation of $1.7 billion to close out Fiscal Year 2013.

To be clear: this doesn’t reflect the MMI Fund’s current health.  This was an accounting transfer that has not yet caught up with reality.  It’s based on the housing market more than a year ago, and doesn’t reflect policy changes we’ve made since then.

In fact, FHA has strengthened underwriting standards and its portfolio, resulting in dramatic improvements, even since this time last year.

A 15 percent drop in delinquency rates. A20 percent drop in foreclosures starts.

A 26 percent improvement on recoveries. And, more than a 90 percent improvement in Early Payment Defaults.

FHA has nearly $50 billion in liquid assets, including more than $17 billion added in the Fiscal Year that just ended.  And it continues to provide a wide-variety of qualified buyers with the opportunity to become homeowners.

Through these efforts and more, we are sending a clear message: that even as the financial crisis becomes more distant in our nation’s rearview mirror, the Obama Administration’s commitment to our recovery will never waver.

And in the larger picture, these actions, combined with leadership like yours, has helped write quite a comeback story since 2008.  Sales are up. Prices are up.  Construction is up. Optimism is up.  In short, so many critical trends are going in a positive direction.

I thank you for the role you played in this growth. You have had to be creative and resilient in the face of incredible challenges – and I’m sure will continue to be with those that lie ahead.

Through it all, you have more than earned the right to highlight your strength with your conference theme: 100 Years Strong.”  And we are determined to work with you to ensure that the best years are ahead.

To view the remarks in their entirety, please click here.

About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders,  and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally. Website:



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.