Now That’s What I Call Housing Reform!

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 3221, the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act by a final vote of 272 to 152. The Senate votes on their version on Saturday and President Bush has promised to sign the final combined bill.

Bush had threatened to veto the bill due to its provision of providing $4 billion to localities to buy and rehab (or demolish?) abandoned property. However, his Treasury Secretary said that this bill HAD to go through, specifically the provisions creating a new regulator for mortgage entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as its unlimited line of credit to the quasi-governmental agencies from the US Treasury, to reassure the financial markets that the government would spend whatever is necessary to keep Fannie and Freddie from failing.

The other major provision is $300 billion to help refinance homeowners out of sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages into fixed rate, government guaranteed FHA loans. This is estimated to help up to 400,000 homeowners.

Now it’s up to groups like SUN to kick our municipality in the tail and get some of that $4 billion to help rehab the 1,200 vacant houses in Syracuse.

Combine the new federal assistance with New York’s recent bill that requires a face-to-face mediation session between lender and borrower before foreclosure proceedings can begin and its beginning to look like someone is actually looking out for besieged homeowners.

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