Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a personal message to me, but I contacted Senator Boxer not too long ago to find out more about her ideas behind helping Californians who are upside down on their homes (actually I was mostly interested in getting the code to post her video directly on the site.) After sifting through all kinds of Political crap and coming to grips with the fact they did not, in fact, “listen” to what I had to say, I found this quite interesting:
California is being hit particularly hard by the foreclosure crisis, reporting 481,392 foreclosure filings on 249,513 properties in 2007, the highest total of any state and more than triple the number in 2006. These foreclosures will cost Californians an estimated $67 billion in lost property values, and local governments are likely to see a decline of $4 billion in collected property, sales, and transfer taxes.
For the full reply, read on…
Dear Mr. Clark:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the current foreclosure crisis. I appreciate hearing from you.
Over the past decade, as housing prices rose sharply, lenders and mortgage brokers began offering new exotic loan products frequently using low initial interest rates and predatory tactics to steer borrowers toward loans they could not afford.
Now higher payments on these loans combined with declining property values are forcing many families into foreclosure. California is being hit particularly hard by the foreclosure crisis, reporting 481,392 foreclosure filings on 249,513 properties in 2007, the highest total of any state and more than triple the number in 2006. These foreclosures will cost Californians an estimated $67 billion in lost property values, and local governments are likely to see a decline of $4 billion in collected property, sales, and transfer taxes.
I have supported several sensible steps to ease the mortgage crisis. On April 10, 2008, the Senate passed H.R.3221, the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008. This bill contains $150 million for foreclosure counseling, nearly $4 billion in funds to rehabilitate foreclosed properties through Community Development Block Grants, and $10 billion for mortgage revenue bonds for states to extend lower-cost loans to distressed borrowers. H.R.3221 also amends the Truth in Lending Act to improve the disclosure of loan terms to borrowers upon original application or refinancing of a loan.
Previously, Congress approved an additional $180 million for housing counseling and a temporary increase in the size of loans that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) can back.
Though these actions are a good start, we need to do more. That is why I am co-sponsoring several bills that would regulate the mortgage
industry, prevent some of the worst lender abuses from reoccurring, and promote sustainable and affordable homeownership.
The Homeownership Preservation and Protection Act (S.2452) would require mortgage lenders and home appraisers to act in good faith in all aspects of the home appraisal and mortgage process while giving borrowers recourse against lenders who do not. This bill would also require lenders to verify the borrower’s ability to repay a loan and prevent lenders from steering a client into inappropriate loans. In addition, S.2452 would prohibit the use of balloon payments and prepayment penalties in subprime and non-traditional mortgages, and it would increase funding for the FBI to pursue cases of mortgage fraud.
Despite industry promises, the pace of loan modifications to help families stay in their homes remains too slow. To address this problem, I am co-sponsoring legislation to allow bankruptcy judges to modify unaffordable mortgages on a homeowner’s primary residence, the same power judges already have for vacation homes or investment property. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates this change would help over 600,000 families save their homes from foreclosure.
We must use all the means we have to move towards a solution to the foreclosure crisis. The Federal Trade Commission’s reach should be extended to include deceptive and unfair acts committed by banks and lenders. The increase in FHA and Fannie Mae loan limits must be made permanent. In order to keep loans affordable for many subprime borrowers, we must work closely with and keep the pressure on large lenders and the HOPE NOW coalition of housing counselors, lenders, and investors.
Again, thank you for writing to me. Be assured that I am committed to finding a fair and equitable solution to the housing foreclosure crisis.
United States Senator