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Helping Families Save Their Homes Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I commend the debate and the Presiding Officer's amendment and Senator Kerry for his amendment on addressing these issues of foreclosure. They are so significant in New York, and we need action from Congress and the leadership of President Obama on this issue.

This year, Congress and the administration have taken a number of actions to help our homeowners weather this housing crisis. We have worked to expand foreclosure counseling services, provide homeowners with incentives to write down their debts, and to give local governments and States the tools they need to tackle this housing crisis.

These efforts will help thousands of homeowners in my home State of New York avoid losing their home. Homeowners are also not the only folks affected by this housing crisis. Across the country, thousands of tenants who rent their homes have also been affected.

I remember talking to one friend up in Warren County, and he said to me: Can you please look out for the renters? We suffer in these times as well. And that is exactly right.

More than 30,000 renters across New York who are dutifully paying their rent on time every month may face eviction because they live in a building that is about to be foreclosed. It is estimated that as much as 50 percent of foreclosures have renters involved in those properties.

These tenants have almost no rights when a bank seizes their home. Families without the means to find temporary housing or to move into another unit can literally get kicked out on the street because the landlord has failed to meet his payments or his or her obligations.

For any family this is a horrible tragedy and something that is very difficult to manage. For a low-income family with limited resources and without another place to stay, it is catastrophic. Families without the means to find a temporary housing arrangement or to move into another unit can be kicked onto the streets just because their landlord failed to pay on time.

This is wrong, and I am proud to partner with the Presiding Officer and Senator Kerry to pass new protections for those families. This amendment would allow any tenants in a foreclosed building the right to live out their lease, providing them with the same protections any other renter would have. For a family without a lease, the amendment would guarantee a minimum of 90 days' notice so that renters have the time and the resources to find a new home.

As the housing crisis becomes more and more widespread, we need to make sure we are not just helping homeowners stay in their homes but also helping the thousands of tenants who are hit just as hard or even worse as a result of this crisis.

Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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