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Costa: Tweaks to Housing Policy Not Enough

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) released the following statement in response to the Federal Housing and Finance Agency's (FHFA) announcement of changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) intended to ease refinancing for underwater homeowners.

"Here in the Central Valley, we've been waiting far too long for the Administration and Congress to act," said Costa. "Homeowners have seen their home values plummet, the bills pile up, and their communities ravaged by foreclosures while Washington has failed to respond. Unfortunately, the changes announced today are too little, too late to help many who have lost their homes. Tweaks alone will not solve the housing crisis."

HARP is the only federal program that allows borrowers who are underwater to refinance into lower interest loans. The Administration estimates that these changes will double the number of families enrolled in the program.

The program modifications will allow homeowner's who have a mortgage backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae to refinance with current loan-to-value (LTV) ratios above 80 percent. The announced changes will also remove many of the barriers to refinancing including waiving representations and warrants and property appraisals in some instances.

"We need wholesale change to our disjointed housing policy. The Administration took a step that will provide some families with relief. Congress and the Administration must work together to connect the dots if we want to stem the tide of foreclosures. Sending the HOME Act to the President's desk would be a good start."

Costa is an original co-sponsor of Rep. Dennis Cardoza's H.R. 363, the Housing Opportunity and Mortgage Equity (HOME) Act of 2011, which will allow any borrowers with a Fannie- or Freddie-Backed mortgage to refinance their mortgages at historically low rates. The legislation would allow homeowners to lower their monthly payments and help Americans stay in their homes. This common-sense legislation would be little-to-no cost to taxpayers since fees for refinancing will be added to the mortgage.

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