WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, will attend the White House signing ceremony today of two bills aimed at preventing foreclosures and protecting Ohioans from mortgage fraud. Brown has been an outspoken advocate for federal legislation that makes it easier for homeowners to hold onto their homes by refinancing into more affordable mortgages.
“Too many Ohioans are working hard and playing by the rules, but struggling to afford monthly mortgage payments,” Brown said. “This new housing package will make it easier for homeowners to refinances their mortgages and hold on to their homes. By making a nationwide commitment to addressing mortgage fraud, it will also protect Americans from con artists looking to profit off the mortgage crisis. Foreclosures don’t just affect a single household—they affect surrounding property values and the strength of our neighborhoods. We have a responsibility to prevent foreclosures and protect Americans from mortgage fraud.”
Ohio ranks 10th in the country for number of home foreclosures. There are more than 92,000 foreclosure properties in Ohio, with 47,365 new foreclosures this year in the state. In 2008, Ohio’s nearly 87,000 foreclosure filings represented the 13th straight year of increases in foreclosures. According to Policy Matters Ohio, foreclosure filings have at least tripled since 1995 in all but five of Ohio’s counties. The Center for Responsible Lending projects that there will be 87,540 new foreclosures in 2009 and 291,455 new Ohio foreclosures within the next four years.
President Obama will sign Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act into law today at 4:30 p.m. in the East Room of the White House.
The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act will prevent mortgage foreclosures by strengthening tools needed to prevent foreclosures. It will lower fees for participation in the “Hope for Homeowners” program, a voluntary program that allows at-risk homeowners to refinance into more affordable mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). It will also expand the ability of the FHA and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to modify loans to make them more affordable and increase the number of fair housing field employees that help homeowner avoid foreclosure. The bill also establishes a Nationwide Mortgage Task Force to address mortgage fraud and improves FHA’s ability to eliminate bad lenders.
The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act will protect consumers by expanding the criminal code to cover previously unregulated mortgage lending business that held nearly half the residential mortgage market before the economic collapse. This new regulatory authority will help prevent the housing market from ever becoming a source of economic collapse in the future.
Brown successfully fought to pass a housing bill last year that provided Ohio with $258 million in neighborhood stabilization funds to help rebuild Ohio communities devastated by the foreclosure crisis. Last year, Brown also helped secure an additional $80 million in the foreclosure assistance bill for housing counseling, bringing the total to $180 million. He also successfully fought to add $200 million in the final report for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act of 2008 for HUD-certified nonprofit organizations to conduct foreclosure prevention counseling.