HUD: Written Testimony of Dr. Ben Carson

Investor Update
October 12, 2017


Chairman Hensarling, Ranking Member Waters, and members of this Committee, thank you for inviting me to discuss the work we do at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and my plans for fulfilling our mission with fidelity to our Congressional mandate and the best interests of the American people.

First, please know that, right now, HUD is involved in the federal response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria that damaged and devastated areas of Texas, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. On a daily basis, in our interagency leadership role as the Coordinating Department for the Housing Recovery Support Function, HUD’s team is coordinating with our Federal, State, territorial, and local agency partners in the field, providing temporary and long-term housing solutions for survivors, and helping HUD-assisted clients and FHA-insured mortgage borrowers. In the long-term, HUD will play a key role in the recovery efforts in these disaster impacted regions as they rebuild. Helping the impacted communities in the aftermath of these storms is and will remain a priority for me and this Administration.


While there remains robust debate about how to solve the complex problems that HUD tackles every day, we should all be able to agree that roofs over peoples’ heads, strong families, and healthy communities help foster and develop the God-given potential of those Americans that HUD assists. To do so, we need an innovative approach that responds to today, not yesterday.

After all, America has changed greatly since HUD was established as part of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs over 50 years ago, and we must learn to evolve with the country.

While HUD has been around for 50 years, many Americans still struggle to find affordable housing. The Worst-Case Housing Needs 2017 Report indicates that alarmingly high numbers of Americans continue to pay more than half of their incomes toward rent and/or live in inadequate conditions. Chronic homelessness continues to plague tens of thousands of our countrymen, and many millions remain mired in poverty, rather than being guided on a path out of it.

History has made clear that spending more taxpayer dollars does not necessarily create better outcomes.

We must constantly evaluate our programs to ensure that we are delivering services effectively and efficiently to HUD’s constituents, and responding to today’s challenges with the best practices and technologies.

Since I arrived at HUD in March, it has been my mission to employ the wealth of institutional knowledge held by career staff to improve our services, reform our programs to reflect realities of modern society, and remain careful stewards of taxpayer dollars. My experiences and interactions with the talented employees of HUD have been extremely gratifying and inspiring.

With that in mind, it is encouraging that in the 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, HUD had the highest Employee Engagement Score (69%) we have seen in the last three years. Hearing the voices of HUD team members on issues from workplace conditions to program efficiency continues to be vital to building a better agency.

After several months of hard work, our team has outlined a bold plan for institutional reform and improvement that will better serve all Americans—those who benefit from our programs, the taxpayers who fund us, and the hard-working employees who have dedicated their careers to helping those served by HUD.

It is called the FORWARD initiative.


The policy elements of the FORWARD initiative each fall under what we have named “the three Rs:” Reimagine How HUD Works, Restore the American Dream, and Rethink American Communities.

Reimagining How HUD Works refers to our internal processes, working conditions, and training. We believe that an improved work environment will lead to a more effective workforce.

Of course, the goal of every improvement made at HUD is to provide better service to those in need. Our job is to Restore the American Dream, getting Americans back on their feet and permanently improving their lives.

This initiative is a strong companion to the work done by this Committee and the Congress in passing the Housing Opportunities Through Modernization Act last year. We are working to enhance our rental assistance programs to better support the needs of the families they serve. A goal of every anti-poverty program should be to help beneficiaries reach prosperity and self sufficiency. Housing assistance must be geared toward this goal through alignment with job training and other forms of support where possible. This does not mean taking assistance away from those who need HUD—it means doing our job so well that fewer and fewer people require our assistance.

Additionally, we have an opportunity to finally eliminate veteran homelessness in America. This will continue to be a focus for our Department. They sacrificed for our country, and deserve all the support we can give.

We are also working to help more Americans achieve responsible homeownership, including revisiting the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA’s) condominium rules to consider opening up assistance to more first-time homebuyers. FHA’s role to support homeownership is important and must be executed responsibly for borrowers and taxpayers. As part of this, we are looking to modernize FHA’s systems and programs to reduce risk and ensure that they will be available for future generations.

And finally, we need to Rethink American Communities and how we make them thrive.

Expanding community investment through public-private partnerships and engaging the most effective charities, philanthropies, and religious institutions produces better results than heavy-handed government interventions. Of course, HUD is committed to continuing to serve those families that might always need someone to lean on.

I am also making it a special priority to help more American families live in healthy homes free of lead hazards and other poisonous substances. As a doctor, I have seen firsthand the tragic consequences of childhood exposure to hazardous paints, pipes, and building materials. Ridding our homes of such dangers, and thereby preventing Americans young and old from suffering from acute and long-term illnesses, is a worthy cause and will have a positive impact on our country that will be felt far beyond the lives that we will directly save.


While much of our FORWARD initiative consists of plans for the future, HUD is hard at work this very moment responding to the recent hurricanes, and planning for the long-term recovery of the areas impacted by them. I am particularly pleased that HUD’s Deputy Secretary, Pamela Patenaude, is now in office. Deputy Secretary Patenaude has expertise from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita during a previous tour at HUD, and has already proven to be a tremendous asset in her role as the Chair of the Department’s Disaster Management Group.

Even before a hurricane hits, HUD’s local field staff are identifying vacant units in the potentially impacted areas and working with our stakeholders to prepare for the hurricane. Since these storms hit, many employees from around the nation volunteered to go to affected areas, becoming the face of the Department and providing first-hand assessments. Anthony Landecker is one such employee that I had an opportunity to meet during a recent trip to Beaumont, Texas. Anthony moved with his wife and two young children from Minnesota to help with the recovery efforts. We owe Anthony, and all those who have volunteered to respond to these disasters, our gratitude. To all the amazing employees at HUD working to respond to the devastation of Harvey, Irma, and Maria: thank you.

HUD is supporting FEMA to move displaced residents into temporary and interim habitable housing in each of the impacted areas. HUD has staff at shelters and disaster recovery centers to work with the survivors and local supportive service providers to identify housing solutions and needed services.

HUD also works with other federal agencies as well, such as HHS and USDA, to coordinate our disaster recovery efforts. FEMA also has been a close partner, inspecting thousands of damaged dwellings a day. FEMA’s inspection data will allow HUD to estimate the unmet repair needs, and assists HUD in its long-term recovery efforts.

We are also working closely with communities to support those who were homeless prior to the storms, to help ensure their safety and address their continuing need for housing. Part of our strategy will be working to ensure that emergency shelters are meeting the needs of the most vulnerable.

In addition, we are providing FHA mortgage insurance to people who have lost their homes. Some will be eligible for 100 percent financing through HUD’s Section 203(h) program. HUD has also granted a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures, and a 90-day forbearance on foreclosures of FHA-insured mortgages.


While pursuing its mission to provide safe, decent, and affordable housing for the American people, the HUD team is also cognizant of its vital duty to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and, like the medical dictum, to “first, do no harm.”

President Donald Trump has directed federal agencies to take special care against burdening American families and their businesses with unnecessary and expensive regulations. In accordance with Executive Orders 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” and 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” HUD is reviewing its existing regulations to assess their compliance costs and reduce regulatory burden.

As required by Executive Order 13777, HUD has established a Regulatory Reform Task Force charged with identifying agency regulations that should be repealed, replaced or modified. I am confident the efforts currently underway will help the agency streamline its services, reduce regulatory burdens and, ultimately, result in a more efficient and effective HUD.


Let me close by reiterating the interest of our Administration, and my personal interest, in working with this Committee on housing finance reform. I’ve met with several of you about this topic over the past weeks and look forward to conversations with more members of this Committee in the future. We are now entering the 10th year of the government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, being placed into conservatorship, which is much too long for this issue to remain unresolved.

We must think comprehensively about reform, so that changes do not cause unintended consequences. HUD will be an active participant in this critical dialogue because of our fundamental housing mission, and because our FHA mortgage insurance program and our Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed security guaranty are large and vital components of the housing finance system.

Housing finance reform should be built on shared goals of ensuring a well-functioning housing finance system that provides access for creditworthy borrowers that are ready to own a home, expands the role of the private sector, and reduces overall taxpayer exposure. There are many details for this Committee to consider, but the nation would be well served if we could, working together, address this significant piece of unfinished business from the last housing crisis.

Thank you, again, for inviting me to testify today. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Source: HUD



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.