FORECLOSURE PREVENTION ACT OF 2008 -- (Senate - July 14, 2008)
Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, I am very pleased that the Senate has passed legislation which will help our troubled housing market. This bill will reform the oversight of the government-sponsored enterprises--Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks--and also provided much needed relief for communities and homeowners combating foreclosures.
The first piece of this large housing bill is the Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act. This legislation will modernize the regulation of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks and expands their housing mission. By creating one regulator for the GSEs, it will make it easier for them to respond to the housing market and continue to create affordable housing opportunities for Americans across the country.
The bill also includes key provisions which will help homeowners and communities combat foreclosures. Foreclosed properties drive down the property value of surrounding homes, and communities are losing tax revenue, which will impact public services. Communities need the ability to take excess homes and make them livable again in order to recover lost revenue. The $4 billion in CDBG funding included in this bill will allow for States and local municipalities to rehabilitate foreclosed properties and then get them back onto the market for homeowners to purchase or to be made into affordable rental housing. This money is vital to the economic recovery of communities that have been devastated by foreclosure.
Additionally, the bill has funding for housing counselors to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Housing counselors will be able to reach troubled homeowners and find viable and affordable solutions in order to keep them in their homes. One of the most creative provisions to help at risk homeowners is the Hope for Homeownership Program in FHA. This program will allow homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments to refinance into a fixed-rate FHA insured mortgage and ultimately stay in their homes. The quicker these provisions are signed into law, the quicker families and communities can respond to their housing needs.
I am very pleased that the amendment which myself, Senators Collins, Lincoln, and Mikulski offered was agreed to and incorporated into the bill. There are many problems that are a result of the collapsing housing market, and the emergence of financial scam artists is one of them. The amendment will better protect homeowners from scam artists trying to steal the equity out of their homes.
The passage of this housing bill is the first step to help our country from the collapse of the housing market. I hope that the House will act quickly and Congress can produce a comprehensive piece of legislation which the President will sign.