Recognizing National Homeownership Month
The combination of unemployment, unsustainable and predatory mortgages, and uncooperative mortgage servicers has created a perfect storm of record rates, of loan defaults and foreclosures. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, a record 12 percent of mortgages are either in default or in foreclosure. According to the Center For Responsible Lending, 6,500 foreclosures occur each day in the United States. By the end of 2009, there will be 2.4 million families in foreclosure. We must keep families in their homes, and this Congress and the administration have developed programs to do just that. For example, the Making Home Affordable program, announced by President Barack Obama in March, builds on legislation I introduced at the beginning of this Congress to end this unending avalanche of foreclosures.
Despite the commitment from the administration and Congress to reduce foreclosures, mortgage servicers have been reluctant to modify troubled loans. In fact, NeighborWorks recently found in its survey of housing counseling agencies that servicers are generally uncooperative. They take up to 60 days to respond to requests and frequently lose important documents. In order to be true to the spirit of National Homeownership Month, I call on all mortgage servicers to fully participate in the Making Home Affordable program and to work with families to maintain their ownership.
Vulnerable homeowners are also threatened by scam artists who offer to rescue or help struggling homeowners stay in their homes for an exorbitant fee that must be paid up front. They often deliver either nothing or a higher payment than the homeowner was paying before contacting these companies. The Federal Trade Commission has begun to crack down on these scammers, and I support these efforts.
Prospective homeowners are also caught up in this economic crisis. Because they have no other home to sell, first-time homebuyers have the ability to help stabilize housing prices and neighborhoods. Housing experts are saying that now is the time to buy, but many first-time homebuyers are finding themselves locked out of the housing market. Many families who would otherwise be buying homes now lack the required down payment. Fortunately, the recently enacted $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers is now being monetized so that these homeowners can use it to pay closing costs or to assist with their down payment.
America's homeowners face many challenges this month and will face many more this year. This resolution demonstrates this Congress' commitment to assisting them and first-time homebuyers in achieving the American dream of homeownership.
I urge all of my colleagues to support this important resolution.