Castor Leads Passage of Historic Housing Bill
Jul 23, 2008 -
U.S. Representative Kathy Castor today led off the congressional debate on the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act on the floor of the United States House of Representatives.
Castor recently held the first Foreclosure Assistance Workshop in Tampa, where hundreds of people came to seek guidance with their mortgage problems. Banks were on hand to rework loans. Castor heard heart-wrenching stories from hundreds of her hard-working neighbors and went right back to work in Washington to help pass the most impactful housing bill in a generation. The American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act is a constructive answer to the foreclosure crisis to try to keep affordable housing in our communities and assist hard-working folks across America.
“Our landmark legislation today throws a lifeline to families who are struggling to maintain the American dream of home ownership during this housing crisis and economic downturn,” said Castor from the House floor. “Families across America are being forced to make heart-wrenching decisions in order to stay in their homes. The good news is that many of us in this Congress understand and we are going to stand up for families and ensure – that if you work hard and play by the rules - the tools and resources will be available to help you stay in your home.”
This comprehensive legislation will assist homeowners facing foreclosure, and help strengthen the housing market and our overall economy.
This bill will help significant numbers of hard-working American families in danger of losing their home refinance into lower-cost government -insured mortgages they can afford to repay – at no cost to the American taxpayer. The bill also:
· Strengthens neighborhoods hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis by providing resources to allow cities and states to buy up and rehabilitate foreclosed properties that are currently driving down home prices, reducing state and local revenues, and destabilizing neighborhoods;
· Expands homeownership opportunities for veterans and helps returning soldiers avoid foreclosure and stay in their home;
· Provides tax breaks to spur home buying and the economy; and
· Creates a new Fund to boost the nation’s stock of affordable rental housing in both rural and urban areas for low and very low-income individuals and families.
This legislation also includes provisions to make assistance to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac available if necessary. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are important institutions that hold or guarantee nearly half of all mortgages in the United States. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag said there was “a significant chance, probably better than 50 percent, that the proposed new Treasury authority would not be used before it expired at the end of December 2009.”
“Congress worked in a bipartisan way to craft an effective response to the housing crisis. President Bush did the right thing by abandoning his veto threat and pledging to sign this legislation into law,” said Castor.
Florida has the second highest rate of foreclosures in the country, with 37,364 foreclosed properties at the end of May 2008. Tampa Bay ranks 35th in the number of foreclosure filings with 4,773 in May alone.
“Today, 3 million to 4 million families are expected to lose their homes to foreclosure,” Castor continued. “When a home in your neighborhood ends up in foreclosure, it is usually sold at a reduced value and the values of homes throughout the neighborhood are affected. We have all seen these eyesores with overgrown grass, broken windows and in disrepair. That is why we are all in this together. It is vital that we fight to maintain the property values of our communities.”
The overwhelming response to Castor’s first Foreclosure Assistance Workshop in Tampa this month prompted her to organize a second one on Saturday, August 16, 2008, from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM at the Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Avenue South, in St. Petersburg. Like the first one, Castor’s second Foreclosure Assistance Workshop will feature housing and finance professionals to counsel families one-on-one about their foreclosure problems.
“The current housing crisis has affected thousands of my hard-working families in District 11 who are already being squeezed by the high prices of gas, groceries, health care and education. Over 600 of them came to my first workshop in Tampa to try to find solutions to their housing problems. Many of them are nearing foreclosure, due to unscrupulous predatory lenders who have shattered their dreams of homeownership,” said Castor. “The New Direction Congress today took action and passed historic legislation to help our deserving families. I invite everyone who’s facing a tough time with their mortgage payments to join me and our community partners in our second foreclosure assistance workshop in St. Petersburg on August 16 to save the American dream.”
Congresswoman Kathy Castor represents Florida’s 11th Congressional District, which covers parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties.