Urgent Comments: This bill is being debated today, and will be voted on very soon. President Bush’s threat to veto it as benefiting speculators can be circumvented by stipulating that it only apply to people who occupy their homes as their primary residence. Urge your representatives in Washington to support this bill, H.R. 5830. It will help the most people, and revitalize the housing market. That will have a ripple effect and rescue the economy as a whole. You can find your representatives’ email addresses at http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt and firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Major provisions of housing rescue bills in the House aimed at heading off foreclosures, preventing neighborhood blight and stabilizing the market:
• Give the Federal Housing Administration $300 billion in new lending authority and relax its standards to provide affordable, fixed-rate mortgages to debt-ridden homeowners.
• Modernize the FHA and allow it to back loans for riskier borrowers. Permanently increase the size of loans the agency can insure — currently set to revert to $362,790 by the end of the year — to $729,750 in the highest-cost areas.
• Tighten regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that finance mortgages, and permanently raise the limit on the loans they can buy — set to revert to $417,000 by the end of the year — to $729,750 in the highest-cost areas.
• Provide low-income housing tax breaks, low-income rental housing incentives and a credit of up to $7,500 for first-time homebuyers, to be paid back over 15 years.
• Give states $10 billion in tax-free municipal bond authority for low-interest loans to first-time homebuyers, construction of low-income rental housing, and refinancing subprime mortgages.
• Create a safe harbor from investor lawsuits for mortgage holders who modify loans to borrowers who are in default or about to default.
• Provide $210 million for pre-foreclosure counseling.
• Send $15 billion in loans and grants to states for buying and fixing up foreclosed property.
By The Associated Press 05/08/2008 10:00 PDT