Attempts at Relief and Reform

Help for the Unemployed

Posted on Tuesday, May 25, 2010

When the Senate passed the Wall Street reform package last week, it included a provision that uses $3 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to reduce mortgage payments for those homeowners who have lost their job as a result of the nation’s recession.

The same measure already passed in the House’s version of the financial reform bill and is modeled after a state program introduced by Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pennsylvania) when he was a Pennsylvania state legislator.

Fattah calls Pennsylvania’s Homeowner’s Emergency Mortgage Assistance (HEMA) program “highly successful,” with a “proven track record.” According to a statement from the congressman’s office HEMA has provided $236 million to tens of thousands of unemployed workers in Pennsylvania to stave off the foreclosure process.

Under the Senate-passed bill, homeowners that have a “reasonable prospect” of resuming mortgage payments within 24 months will be able to borrow up to $50,000 to assist them with monthly payments in the interim.
Fattah says he introduced HEMA into the House bill knowing that as the unemployment rate continues to rise, millions of families nationwide will be in jeopardy of losing their homes.

“American’s need help, 8 percent of all mortgage holders are currently at risk of losing their homes and that is unacceptable,” Fattah said in a statement issued Monday. “I’m encouraged that my colleagues supported my legislation in both the House and the Senate to ensure that families won’t be faced with the double blow of being unemployed and homeless.”

John Cochran, CEO and executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s praised Fattah for his leadership on foreclosure avoidance. “The additional funds will certainly be welcomed by the nation’s mayors who work daily to prevent mortgage foreclosures that are still ravaging too many families and neighborhoods in our nation,” Cochran said.

According to Fattah, lawmakers hope to have the measure to President Obama for his signature by the July 4th recess.

The White House itself has already endorsed providing mortgage assistance to unemployed homeowners. In March, the administration announced a new program for borrowers who’ve recently lost their jobs under the umbrella of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

The Home Affordable Unemployment Program, as it’s been dubbed, becomes effective July 1, 2010, and offers eligible unemployed borrowers a forbearance plan to temporarily reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for at least three months.-DSNews

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