Republicans to Homeowners & Communities: Trouble with Foreclosure? So Be It!
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, spoke out today against Republican attempts to terminate the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). This was the second markup in as many weeks where Committee Republicans ended programs to help people stay in their homes and help communities weather the foreclosure crisis.
"I feel as if Republicans are operating in a parallel universe, completely removed from a housing crisis that brought the economy to its knees, left communities decimated, and eviscerated untold amounts of American wealth. A few Republicans even stated – repeatedly – that the housing crisis is over," said Congresswoman Waters. "Today's vote by Committee Republicans to gut HAMP and NSP is a slap in the face to struggling homeowners and recovering communities throughout this country."
Republicans first moved to end NSP, which allows local governments and organizations to access funds to fix up homes and neighborhoods that have been devastated by foreclosure. Congresswoman Waters led efforts to create NSP three years ago, securing $4 billion for the program in 2008, $2 billion in 2009, and an additional $1 billion under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. "I'm really shocked that Republicans moved one step closer to ending NSP today, because this program uses federal funds to leverage private resources and rehabilitate abandoned and foreclosed homes that drive down property values and drive up local government costs," said Congresswoman Waters. "I've seen firsthand the benefits of NSP in my district and in both Democratic and Republican districts all over the country: houses once blighted by disrepair, graffiti, boarded-up windows, rats, and weeds have been rehabilitated and are no longer a drag on area property values. The Republicans' misguided facts and opinions about NSP are only going to worsen the nation's economic recovery."
Congresswoman Waters offered two amendments to the NSP termination legislation. The first amendment would require the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to conduct a study on the impact of jobs lost under the termination of NSP, and to then inform communities that: the program has been cancelled, a certain number of jobs will be lost, and that organizations requesting information about how to improve their communities should contact their Member of Congress. Though the Republicans claim that their focus is on jobs, this common-sense amendment failed when Republicans refused to take accountability for the job losses associated with their draconian cuts. The Congresswoman's second amendment directed HUD to post a notice on its website saying that NSP had been terminated, and again direct inquiries to individual Members of Congress, or state, county and local officials. This amendment passed the Committee on voice vote.
Republicans then voted to end HAMP, the government program to help struggling homeowners achieve loan modifications and avoid foreclosure. "For some reason, the Republicans believe that HAMP's failures mean we need less regulation of servicers, not more. That makes no sense. I believe that we need more regulation of mortgage servicers, including ending the foreclosure "dual track," mandating that servicers establish single-points-of-contact for loan modifications, and establishing a third-party appeal process for homeowners denied loss mitigation opportunities. The Treasury should also start issuing monetary penalties for servicer misbehavior," said the Congresswoman.
Similar to her NSP amendment, Congresswoman Waters offered an amendment to require the Treasury Department to post to its website a message that HAMP has been cancelled and that directs homeowners to the office of their Member of Congress. This amendment also passed the Committee on voice vote.
"Today, the Republicans continued their agenda to eliminate jobs at any cost and leave homeowners to fend for themselves against powerful banks. It's clear that they want to repeal these programs and not replace them with anything meaningful. I hope they are prepared for the barrage of phone calls from their constituents, their cities and their towns, who desperately need their help."