Matheson Supports Housing Relief Bill
Congressman Jim Matheson today supported a housing relief bill designed to shore up the shaky real estate market, which in turn is a major factor in the weakening economy. Matheson voted for an amended HR 3221 - the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act.
"This bill offers help to deserving homeowners, tightens regulation of the mortgage lending industry and sends important financial signals to the markets. I think it is a responsible step to address a problem that affects a growing number of Utah homeowners and businesses," said Matheson.
Matheson said the centerpiece of the legislation is a package of federal loan guarantees to help homeowners refinance into market-rate mortgages with better terms. It also creates a new independent agency to regulate Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank System. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored entities that combined hold about $5 trillion worth of mortgage debt. The legislation also extends tax credits of up to $7,500 for first-time homebuyers, effective until July 1, 2009.
Matheson said the bipartisan bill includes provisions sought by US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, arising from concern that a collapse of either Fannie or Freddie could cause a worldwide crisis in debt markets. The recent federal government takeover of a California mortgage bank has sparked consumer fears that the ongoing housing crisis might cause more banks to fail.