Weekly Column of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) - Restoring HOPE in the Housing Market

Posted on October 12, 2008

Tennesseans are feeling the pinch from the economic downturn. According to the latest estimates, nearly 67,000 Tennesseans had overdue mortgages in the second quarter of 2008. That’s a big number, and it’s something that concerns all of us. But what some people might not know is that many of those facing foreclosure have the opportunity to refinance their loans and keep their homes as the result of legislation that Congress passed in July. With a single phone call, many of the nearly 67,000 Tennesseans facing foreclosure may be able to keep their homes through a new program called HOPE for Homeowners. This program helps homeowners refinance delinquent mortgages if their lenders agree to participate. The program, which runs from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2011, is meant to help families keep their homes while stabilizing the housing market. America is still a great big economy. Even in this slowdown, we will produce about 30 percent of all the wealth in the world this year. So we are perfectly capable, with our great universities, with our energy laboratories, with our great corporations, with our terrific workforce, and with our system of education, of coming back – and we will come back. We will lead the world in a great many areas. But first we must focus on the serious family budget issues that if not addressed will prevent our country from prospering. We have to address the mortgage problems dragging down the economy and help get economic traffic moving again so that Americas can get auto, student, mortgage, business, and farm credit loans at reasonable prices. The government has taken action and more may be necessary, but our solutions must limit the cost to taxpayers while working to pay down the federal debt. As I’ve said, many of the nearly 67,000 Tennesseans should be able to keep their homes if they contact the HOPE for Homeowners program. Those in trouble or behind on their mortgage payments should immediately call 1 (800) CALL-FHA, visit www.FHA.gov or speak to a counselor from a local community housing group to determine the best course of action. This program is a good step toward boosting confidence in the housing market and helping preserve the American dream for the millions of people facing possible foreclosure. Addressing the housing problem is an important step toward stabilizing the credit markets so our economy can rebound for all Tennesseans, whether or not they are facing foreclosure.