Monday, May 19, 2008

Mortgage Help may be on the way.

From the Detroit Press :

"WASHINGTON -- The House passed a plan Thursday to provide cheaper, government-backed mortgages for half a million debt-ridden borrowers.

Despite veto threats from President George W. Bush, the measure was approved by a 266-154 vote, with 39 Republicans supporting it -- mostly those from areas suffering worst from housing woes.

All members of the Michigan delegation voted for the bill except Republicans Dave Camp, Peter Hoekstra, Candice Miller and Tim Walberg.

The measure, which awaits Senate action, would let the Federal Housing Administration take on up to $300 billion in new mortgages so that borrowers facing foreclosure could refinance.

The plan by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is the centerpiece of a package of bills approved Thursday that Democrats say will prevent more foreclosures and help deal with the fallout from the mortgage meltdown.

"We are in a recession, and the major cause of that is the subprime crisis," said Frank, the Financial Services Committee chairman.

"Diminishing the number of foreclosures is in the interest not simply of those who will avoid foreclosure, but people in their neighborhood, the cities in which they are located, and the whole economy."

Proponents say they hope the package will serve as the basis for a bipartisan housing compromise that could satisfy both parties' appetite for delivering election-year aid to constituents.

Under Frank's plan, homeowners considered too risky to qualify could refinance into FHA-backed loans if their lenders agreed to take substantial losses on the original mortgages. Borrowers would have to show they could make payments on the new loans.

They would have to share with FHA at least half of their proceeds if they profited from selling or refinancing again.

The plan is projected to help roughly 500,000 borrowers at a cost of $2.7 billion over five years.

The House also passed, on a 239-188 vote, a bill to send $15 billion to states to buy and fix foreclosed properties. Bush threatened to veto that measure, too, contending it would reward lenders who helped cause the housing chaos."


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