U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, today made the following statement at a Committee hearing on the state of the housing market.
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate you calling this hearing.
"Unfortunately, as we sit here today, the only realistic assessment of the state of our housing market is that it is weak and has faced continued decline. Home prices declined nearly 5 percent in 2011. This was the fifth straight year of declines. Worse yet, some states saw declines of more than twice that rate. In Illinois, prices declined over 11 percent and in Nevada, prices declined more than 10 percent.
"The troubled state of our housing market should be a call for Congress to take action. Traditionally, this Committee has acted in a bipartisan fashion to address pressing problems facing the nation. During my tenure on the Committee, we have worked across party lines to pass important legislation to reform the GSEs and to resolve the savings and loan crisis. We can and should return to that practice.
"Some have speculated that Congress will fall into gridlock during the rest of this year. However, that does not have to be the path of this Committee.
"Given strong bipartisan support for helping homeowners, I believe that it is unfortunate that Congress has yet to devise a thoughtful and effective program to revive the housing market. As early as 2008, I warned that to be effective, we needed to address the underlying fundamentals driving the housing market and mortgage foreclosures. I warned that if we did not adopt such an approach, we would risk wasting a lot of taxpayer money.
"Unfortunately, the Administration has rolled out one ineffective homeowner assistance program after another. The Administration's latest proposal reveals its unwillingness to provide the leadership necessary to make the tough choices required to revive the housing market.
"This appears to be an ideal time for the members of this Committee to step into the leadership vacuum. I have no illusions that this will be easy. However, we will never solve the problems with the housing market, if we don't start working together to find reasonable solutions.
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman."