Merkley Calls for Swift Action to Address Record Foreclosures

Merkley Calls for Swift Action to Address Record Foreclosures

Legislation Should Include "Lifeline Option" Allowing Bankruptcy Judges to Adjust Mortgage Terms

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement Thursday regarding the announcement that the number of families getting a foreclosure notice in the mail is at its highest level in American history:

“The already dismal foreclosure crisis in America is getting dramatically worse. 

“The core of the American dream, homeownership, is in jeopardy for hundreds of thousands of American families.

“Passing legislation that provides foreclosure assistance for American families needs to be at the top of the to-do list when the Senate comes back into session next week.

“It’s crucial that any mortgage bill includes the ‘lifeline option’ that allows bankruptcy judges to adjust the terms of home loans.  Bankruptcy judges currently have the power to adjust the terms of loans for yachts and vacation homes.  It’s time to allow the same lifeline for family homes.

“President Obama’s ‘Making Home Affordable’ plan has laid out a blueprint for assisting families who are having difficulty with their mortgages, but Congress must take action if we are to solve the mortgage crisis and prevent it from happening again.”

“Senator Durbin has been at the forefront of the fight to put together legislation that will stem the rapidly rising foreclosure rate.  Congress has an obligation to come together quickly and take action to help families stay in their homes and should take up Senator Durbin’s bill next week.”

Foreclosure filings during the first quarter of 2009 jumped 24 percent over a year earlier and nine percent compared to the last quarter of 2008, according to RealtyTrac.  The number of households that received a foreclosure filing in March was more than 12 percent higher than the next highest month on record. 

Oregon has been hit especially hard by increased foreclosures.  One in every 446 Oregon housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month of February, the ninth highest state foreclosure rate in the nation.  Deschutes County reported the highest county foreclosure rate in the state for February at 2.6 times the national average, with one in every 167 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing.