The House of Representatives passed two ill-advised financial deregulation bills on November 18th. Both are giveaways to some of the country’s biggest banks. Both, if they ever became law, would mark a dangerous retreat from the financial reforms put in place after the financial crisis.
A key mortgage lending reform – which would be rolled back by a bill coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives next week – commands the support of an overwhelming majority of voters, according to a poll conducted this summer by Lake Research on behalf of Americans for Financial Reform and the Center for Responsible Lending.
Following the release of a report by the Center for Popular Democracy and the ACCE Institute detailing sales of troubled mortgages to faulty players, mayors from across the country are calling for mortgage owners and holders to prioritize the sale of troubled mortgages to good actors who can help homeowners struggling in the aftermath of the crisis.
Members of the Americans for Financial Reform coalition have argued that all homeowners should enjoy the same basic protections in their dealings with mortgage loan servicers. On November 20, the CFPB announced a set of proposed new rules that would bring that goal closer to
Mel Watt is being urged again to end the policy of prohibiting mortgage modifications that reduce the balance of principal. In a joint letter delivered today, more than 200 housing, community, labor, civil rights and consumer groups call on Watt to reverse the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s longstanding ban on principal reduction – a policy put in place by his predecessor.
Americans for Financial Reform, California Reinvestment Coalition, National Fair Housing Alliance, National People’s Action, New Economy Project, and Woodstock Institute praised the CFPB for proposing “a number of positive steps to improve the range and detail of mortgage application and lending information available to financial regulators and the public.” This kind of data, the statement says, “is crucial for regulators and the public to understand the mortgage market, who does and does not have access to credit, and on what terms.”
“We write to you now on behalf of the millions of families who are still struggling with negative home equity, as well as those who are in danger of losing their homes through foreclosure, and the neighbors and communities hurt by foreclosures around them. The need to swiftly reverse the government sponsored enterprise (GSE) policy on principal reduction remains a major priority for many organizations and community members.”
The financial and economic crisis of 2008 was in no small part the result of an out-of-control mortgage lending industry. New rules for that industry – rules developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010 – are now in effect. Their arrival is extremely good news for homeowners, aspiring homeowners, and the country as a whole.
“Mel Watt’s confirmation as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency is heartening news for American families and communities… Under his leadership, the FHFA can be a help rather than a hindrance in efforts to deal with the foreclosure crisis, assist homeowners, and ensure broad access to sustainable and affordable credit.”
More than 100 organizations joined AFR in signing a letter in support of the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act. This crucial piece of legislation would protect homeowners who receive principal reduction modifications from devastating tax consequences is set to expire on December 31, 2013, just as the government’s recent settlement with JP Morgan Chase promises additional principal write downs. Congress must act swiftly to extend this legislation.