U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today joined Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri) in introducing legislation to provide relief for families currently suffering from the growing housing mortgage crisis.
“Today, the American dream of owning a home is in jeopardy with foreclosure rates hitting a record high,” Alexander said. “This legislation provides solutions that will help millions of Americans facing possible foreclosure and will curtail a crisis that is tearing at the fabric of communities nationwide. We want a strong, robust economy, and housing is a part of that. ”
The Bond-Alexander bill – the Security Against Foreclosures and Education (SAFE) Act – seeks to boost the nation’s confidence in the housing market by providing:
- $10 billion in bond authority to refinance distressed subprime mortgages.
- $15,000 tax credit (spread over three years) for the purchase of a home in or near foreclosure
- Expedited delivery of $180 million in loan counseling funds to help families avoid foreclosure that was included in the Omnibus appropriations bill that became law in December
- Updating outdated Truth In Lending requirements that don’t currently cover newer adjustable rate mortgages so consumers will better understand the loans they are considering
- Extension of foreclosure protection for veterans from 90 days to 6 months
- Federal Housing Administration (FHA) reforms that would make purchasing a home more affordable for many Americans by increasing the loan amounts that FHA can insure and reducing the minimum down payment from 3% to 1.5%.
Alexander said that Tennessee was eighth highest in the country during the third quarter of 2007 in the number of homeowners whose mortgage payments were delinquent – making their homes subject to foreclosure.
"This is a 54 percent increase in Tennessee mortgage delinquencies over two years, from 53,800 delinquencies in the third quarter of 2005 to 82,700 in the third quarter of 2007,” Alexander said. “This legislation will provide the immediate assistance to families that is critical to provide the confidence needed to strengthen the long-term health of the nation’s housing economy.”