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On the Hill Episode 12: Pete Mills, Senior Vice President, Mortgage Bankers Association

In this episode of On the Hill, Tim Rood, Head of Industry Relations, talks with Pete Mills, Senior Vice President of Residential Policy & Member Engagement at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Rood and Mills discuss what mortgage industry participants seeking to influence policy must know to successfully navigate the federal landscape. 

“Success really starts with finding a good policy solution that addresses your issue, but also legitimately speaks to the concerns of your other audiences,” noted Mills, an experienced financial services industry executive with more than 30 years of expertise in public affairs, government relations, public policy and research, all in the housing and mortgage finance arena. 

Mills and Rood discuss how the housing finance ecosystem, frequently driven by financial crises, evolved over the decades to include so many different agencies, policymakers, and supervisory and enforcement bodies. They look at why it’s so challenging to target the right audience on Capitol Hill, and why industry participants must look at the macro environment and policymakers’ constituencies to ensure messaging is positioned correctly.

SitusAMC recently published the Field Guide to the Federal Government for Housing & Housing Finance, a first-of-its-kind digital experience providing an in-depth perspective on key influencers in Washington, D.C. and their impact on the single-family and multifamily real estate industries. The experience includes a white paper and an interactive map of the ecosystem, with an explanation of important players.

“Housing is 16 to 18 percent of GDP, so it's a critical driver for the broader economy,” Mills said. “It's this extraordinarily important part of our social fabric; it's the American dream; it's the primary source of household wealth. Few industries score that high on both economic and social importance and impact. Our issues can sometimes be very complex and narrow … and very few policymakers are going to be able to wrap their heads around the complexities of your business. But if you can tie your issues to the broader macro trends, I think you can get policymakers to pay attention.”

For example, the Biden Administration laid out broad policy themes when the president took office: COVID-19 as a national health emergency and economic threat; climate change as an existential threat; and racial equity and inclusion as a moral imperative. “To the extent that you can hook your issue to one or more of those themes, you're able to get attention,” Mills explained. “Understanding the environment you're operating in is really important.”

Prior to joining MBA, Mills served as Managing Director and co-founder of the Community Mortgage Banking Project, a public policy organization that represented the interests of companies and coalitions involved in the housing and mortgage finance industries. Mills previously led corporate public affairs for Countrywide Financial, managed trade association policy advocacy for the California Mortgage Bankers Association and the California Association of Realtors, and conducted housing policy research at the Federal Reserve Board. He has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated with distinction in 1982.

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