Merkley: Senate Bill Will Help Families Stay in Their Homes

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Senate passed crucial
housing legislation to address the mortgage crisis and assist families facing
foreclosure.   The bill provides additional resources to prevent
future foreclosures and expands access to the HOPE for Homeowners

“The loss of a home is a devastating blow for any family and
the legislation passed today will help those across America who urgently need
it,” said Merkley.  “Included in this legislation are tools for the
Federal Housing Administration to eliminate bad lenders and help prevent people
from falling victim to foreclosure scams. While I am disappointed that the
Senate did not approve the lifeline option to give bankruptcy judges the
ability to modify the terms of a loan, this bill still provides significant
resources to help families remain in their homes.”

The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act will help prevent
foreclosures, increase the availability of credit, and make the banking system
more stable.

The bill helps homeowners by:

  • Expanding the ability of the Federal Housing
    Administration and Rural Housing to modify loans
  • Expanding access to the HOPE for Homeowner Program,
    which helps homeowners avoid foreclosure
  • Creating more enforcement tools for FHA to eliminate
    bad lenders
  • Authorizing an additional $127.5 million for
    foreclosure prevention, including funding for foreclosure counseling
  • Increasing borrowing authority for the Federal Deposit
    Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the National Credit Union Association
  • Authorizing $2.2 billion in additional funds to
    prevent homelessness

The legislation includes an important amendment authored by Senator John Kerry
(D-Mass.) and cosponsored by Senator Merkley that ensures that tenants and
families who might otherwise have to vacate their homes  may remain in
their homes for the balance of their lease or, if there is no lease, have 90
days to find their next home.   Also included is an amendment from
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), co-sponsored by Merkley, to crack down on fraud
and corruption between sellers and buyers of toxic assets.  The amendment
authorizes $15 million for the Special Inspector General for the Term Asset
Relief Program (TARP) to audit recipients of non-recourse Federal loans through
the Public Private Investment Program and the Term Asset Loan Facility to
ensure they do not attempt to manipulate those programs to defraud the federal

“Renters have been treated extremely unfairly in the past,
often tossed out of their homes on short notice despite having a lease,” said
Senator Merkley.  “It is simply unfair that these families, who followed
the rules and who may have lived in their houses and apartments for years,
should be forced to leave their homes by circumstances beyond their control.”

In the coming weeks, Merkley will continue
his push to restore fairness for American homeowners by chairing an upcoming
hearing on predatory lending practices in the Banking, Housing and Urban
Development Committee.