Apgar served as Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from 1997-2001. In this position, Apgar served as Andrew Cuomo’s (#16) chief lieutenant when Cuomo was HUD Secretary. Cuomo had no experience as a banker or in the mortgage industry when he was placed in charge of HUD. Apgar on the other hand, had a Harvard PhD. in economics and long tenure as a purported “expert” in housing and mortgage lending. Presumably, Apgar was to provide expert guidance to temper Cuomo’s complete unfamiliarity with housing finance. As events would prove - and like most people with a Harvard PhD in economics - Apgar’s expertise was shown to be completely mythical and non-existent.
More significant than even his nearly complete technical incompetence, Apgar proved himself to be a zealot to the cause of expanding homeownership at all costs. During his HUD tenure, the enormous government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – were directed by HUD to greatly expand their lending to “low and moderate-income borrowers” via the affordable housing (AH) mandate. On October 31, 2000, Secretary Cuomo – with Apgar’s blessing – directed the GSEs to dedicate 50% of their mortgage capital to low and moderate income borrowers. In doing so, Cuomo sealed the fate of the US economy.
The only way for the GSEs to issue mortgages to so many people that had previously been deemed credit risks was to drastically lower lending standards. This is exactly what happened. When many of these borrowers – who were essentially deemed credit worthy by legislative fiat -defaulted on their mortgages, the losses incurred by the GSEs were enormous. Some idea of the losses accruing from the lower lending standards can be gleaned by the fact that on September 05, 2008 the GSEs were placed in “conservatorship,” and each received $100-billion in capital injections to stave off insolvency. Additional capital injections were later made on December 24, 2009 – a date clearly designed to minimize media and public scrutiny concerning the enormous losses incurred by the GSEs. Naturally, after playing such an enormous role in causing the housing crash, there was only one place for Apgar to end up; as a lecturer and resident “expert” in housing at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. You can’t make this stuff up.
For background into the “affordable housing” mandate, see Kit Bond (#6). See Bill Clinton (#12) for the strategy – read “central plan” - to increase homeownership levels to all-time highs. See Henry Cisneros (#11) and Jamie Gorelick (#26) for additional discussion on the evisceration of lending standards necessary to advance President Clinton’s housing agenda. See Andrew Cuomo (#16) for more details on the affordable housing mandate. For the significance of the 50% affordable housing mandate see Franklin Raines (#40). For the most zealous congressional supporters and defenders of the GSEs see Kit Bond (#6), Barney Frank (#21), Gregory Meeks (#35) and Maxine Waters (#47).