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Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


HELPING FAMILIES SAVE THEIR HOMES ACT OF 2009 -- (House of Representatives - February 26, 2009)

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Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 1106, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act.

Mortgage foreclosures lay at the very heart of our financial crisis. Until we stop this bleeding, we cannot hope to stabilize the housing market and truly rescue our economy.

This legislation is about more than just shoring up our economy, it's about helping hardworking Americans hold on to the American Dream. Foreclosures uproot families and decimate communities. Vacant homes blight our neighborhoods and depress all of our property values.

Foreclosure rates are now approaching heights not seen since the Great Depression. In my own home State of Florida, we have the second highest foreclosure rate in the Nation. Since January, more than 4,200 Florida families have lost their homes. Another 1.2 million Florida homeowners are ``under water,'' that is, they owe more than their homes are worth.

Mr. Chairman, my constituents, our constituents need a lifeline, and we must throw it to them. Voluntary modification is just not working, and our current bankruptcy laws fail our families.

Unlike every other secured debt, including debts secured by second homes, investment properties, luxury yachts and private jets, the mortgage for a primary residence cannot be modified in bankruptcy. That is simply not fair.

The Bankruptcy Code should be a safety net of last resort for families in distress. In this recession, excluding the family home makes no sense and fans the flames of foreclosure.

This bill allows families to remain in their homes and avoid foreclosure. It will also lead to a financial recovery for the lender that would be as good or better than they could get at a foreclosure sale. This is a win-win.

I know some well-meaning opponents believe families will rush headlong into filing for bankruptcy. We all know, however, that the grave consequences of filing for bankruptcy means it will always be a last resort.

Thank you, Chairman Conyers and Chairman Frank, for your leadership on this issue.

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