Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on his vote in favor of the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008:
“This housing bill is a good step toward helping the 60,000 Tennesseans who had delinquent mortgages in the first quarter of this year. It will help jump-start our economy, protect homeowners, and provide incentives for new home buyers. This bipartisan housing bill is yet another example of what the Senate can accomplish when we work together.”
The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 (H.R. 3221) includes the following provisions:
• A refundable tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers.
• Establishes a new, temporary FHA program (HOPE for Homeowners) to help homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes to refinance their mortgages, if their lenders voluntarily agree to participate in the program.
o The program will be paid for using fees paid by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – not taxpayer dollars.
o Only certain owner-occupants would be eligible to refinance – no investors or investor properties will qualify.
o It is set to run from Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2011.
• Creates a tough, new regulator for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks to reduce the possibility of an expensive taxpayer bailout someday.
• In order to protect all Americans, sets minimum standards for mortgage brokers and strengthens the “Truth in Lending Act” (to require better disclosure to borrowers before they sign a mortgage).
• Provides mortgage protections for servicemembers and veterans, such as lengthening the time a lender must wait before staring foreclosure proceedings from three months to nine months after a soldier returns from service.
• A standard property tax deduction for taxpayers who don’t itemize on their returns.
• Over $10 billion in additional bond authority that states could use to provide loans to first-time homebuyers or to finance the construction of affordable rental housing.
• An additional $150 million for foreclosure prevention counseling.
The vote on the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 was 79 to 16. The bill still faces some procedural hurdles in the Senate, which it is expected to clear next month before the Senate begins negotiations with the House on a final bill.