HELP AND HOPE FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP - Congressman Roskam's Weekly Column, WLS 890 AM
Homeownership is much more than simply knowing you have a roof and four walls to shelter your family. It is a fundamental part of the American dream, about economic security and an environment where hard work is rewarded. It is about strengthening and building communities.
As a member of the Financial Services Committee, I have been attentive to the increasingly pressing needs of homeowners in Illinois' Sixth Congressional District and those across the country. In the past couple of years, homeownership rates have risen to record levels as subprime mortgages have helped scores of Americans become homeowners.
However, some bad apples in the subprime mortgage market have left borrowers in a precarious position, threatened with extreme financial pressure, even foreclosure. Foreclosures are bad for everyone, placing the housing market on a less stable foundation. Without homeowners, neighborhoods, schools and local businesses will suffer from depressed home values and a lack of community roots and tax base.
In response to this market adjustment, a two-pronged approach will help us meet existing challenges. In the near term, we can explore efforts to responsibly help those currently under duress. Additionally, we need to look at long term policies that will best facilitate a vibrant housing market with expanding homeownership and sound fiscal policy.
One resource for those needing help navigating their financial standing is a toll-free national hotline (888-995-HOPE) developed by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. Available to any homeowner in America, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the hotline offers free foreclosure prevention counseling from independent, non-profit counselors approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. If you are feeling the weight of just such a financial burden, please use this helpful tool.
As Congress considers action on market issues beyond the immediate concerns of those under pressure now, we need to take care not to hamper the market's ability to provide opportunities for homeownership. Congress could damage the housing market further by forcing lenders to abandon certain types of loans that consumers may need to refinance themselves in a weak housing market. Tighter regulation will cut off loans to the very people we want to help into homeownership.
There is a real opportunity here to forge a better America, an America where homeownership and security abounds. I am looking forward to continuing work in Washington to further the American dream at home.