Today, President Bush and Democrats in Congress are all counting on the FHA to lead the national effort to rescue homeowners at risk of foreclosure. And Montgomery, a long-time Bush loyalist who came to this job with little housing experience, has gained prominence as an unexpectedly influential official whose quiet efforts to modernize a stagnant agency have won the respect of Democrats and Republicans alike.
Bush has asked the FHA to help borrowers in crisis refinance into stable, government-backed mortgages. By December, the plan, called FHA Secure, is expected to help about 500,000 families refinance. The FHA insures mortgages for many first-time, minority and low-income borrowers. Critics warn that the agency, which is overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, lacks the capacity to handle such an extraordinary increase in business.
Housing officials say they need to fill 300 vacancies by Sept. 30, when the fiscal year ends.
The housing bills under consideration would allow the agency to borrow personnel from other agencies.
But lawmakers and industry experts say
In 2007, he created an FHA Web site to allow lenders to more easily navigate the agency’s rules.
"I made the decision early on," said Montgomery, who served under Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson, who resigned amidst a contracting scandal in April. "Actually, I rather like him," said Representative Maxine Waters, the California Democrat and chairwoman of the housing subcommittee in the House. Allen Jones, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said