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Foreclosure Crisis and Gop Gutting Foreclosure Programs

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CHU. Mr. Speaker, the effects of the foreclosure crisis and economic downturn have had a devastating impact on American families. Because of shoddy business practices and enormous risks taken by big banks, our housing and financial systems have utterly collapsed. And in the wake of this destruction, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their homes and their quality of life.

As the casualties rose and homeowners clamored for some relief, the government stepped in to do what it could. But with the scope of the problem, government foreclosure relief programs alone just aren't enough. We should do more--more to fix the housing market and more especially to create jobs, because putting people back to work will do more to right our economy, help people pay their mortgages and get the banks back to lending than anything else.

But the Republican House leadership hasn't gotten the message. In the last 10 weeks since the Republicans took control of the House, they haven't created a single job. What's worse, they

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haven't even put a single jobs bill on the House floor. Instead of creating jobs, they are slashing them. The GOP spending plan eliminates 700,000 jobs and stifles economic growth. Rather than moving the Nation forward, they are forcing America backward.

And this week is no different. Republicans are making things worse for American families as they continue their assault on the middle class. They want to completely abolish four programs designed to help homeowners keep their houses and avoid foreclosure. Republicans have no interest in making these programs work better for the American people. By offering nothing in their place, the GOP is simply abandoning hardworking homeowners who are underwater and struggling to find jobs to pay the bills.

Now, we all know that government foreclosure programs are not perfect. But why are we completely dismantling programs that have helped thousands of Americans stay in their homes? Though not perfect, why are we targeting the victims of the foreclosure and financial crises instead of helping them by fixing these programs?

There's a lot that we can do better without giving up on people like Francisco. Francisco is from Duarte in my district. After a year, he was underwater, and, at the height of the recession, he tried to modify his home loan. He visited his servicer and was pushed back and forth between customer representatives. After 2 years of fighting for help, he only had four pieces of mail from the lender to show for it. He was eventually denied the modification, and he can't even appeal the decision. And though we should be doing more to help him, the Republican plan of doing nothing means that he is completely out of luck.

Commonsense improvements can be made to make the government foreclosure program better, ones that could provide relief to Francisco. Take the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. Simple fixes like having a case manager assigned to each case will allow for better communication between the customer and the bank. If a customer is denied a loan modification, it would be more effective to appeal the decision instead of having to reapply all over again. And we can do more to provide incentives for banks to complete modifications and ensure that servicers complete due diligence before denying modifications.

These are reasonable solutions that servicers have been slow to adopt, if at all. And if we don't make changes to these programs and instead just throw them away, what will struggling homeowners be left with? They will be left to the banks whose bad policies caused this financial crisis in the first place. They will be left with unstable communities strewn with abandoned homes, and they will be left without a home and no one to turn to for help.

It sounds like Republicans would rather return to old policies that we know don't work rather than trying to fix the policies we know that can work. Struggling Americans deserve better than that.


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