U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) today announced the introduction of a broad plan to help struggling homeowners and shore up weaknesses in the nation's housing market. Biggert, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, authored and introduced the Preserving Homeownership Act jointly with Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-02) and Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Spencer Bachus (R-AL-06).
"Congress has yet to send a single bill to the President that might begin to address turbulence in the housing market." said Biggert, a former real estate attorney. "Our bill contains cost-effective reforms that can start helping homeowners - and the economy - now. Instead of outbidding each other on how much taxpayer funding to spend on bail-outs, House and Senate leaders should move the good, bipartisan ideas that are right in front of them in this bill."
According to Biggert, the bill represents the very best elements of housing reforms that Congress has been debating for several years - and none of the bad ones. It includes Federal Housing Administration (FHA) reform; modernization of the GSE's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; additional funding for housing counseling; improved appraisal standards; registration of mortgage originators; resources to combat mortgage fraud; enhanced disclosure; and liability protection for lenders that help struggling homeowners to refinance and eventually repay their loans. It also provides returning veterans with foreclosure protection and temporarily raises loan limits on mortgages backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"Notably absent from the bill is a high price tag," said Biggert. "That's because it doesn't reward speculators or those who engaged in inappropriate or recklessly irresponsible behavior."
Several components of the bill, including FHA and GSE reform, already have passed in one or both chambers but remain stalled as Congressional Democrats battle over controversial add-ons.
"We need to break the log-jam on these common-sense reforms," said Biggert. "Counselors can help prevent foreclosures by guiding homeowners into a loan that best meets their budget and needs. And FHA and GSE reform will add much-needed liquidity to the market while providing more consumers with an alternative to bad, subprime loans. Most importantly for Chicago, the bill addresses mortgage and appraisal fraud, which has skyrocketed in our area and devastated communities."