May 15, 2011
Speaker Boehner Claims There is Little Government Can Do to Address Housing Crisis
On CBS’ Face the Nation today, Speaker John Boehner said he is skeptical “there’s anything the government can do to” to address America’s housing and foreclosure crisis.
In reality, House Republicans voted to eliminate foreclosure assistance program for homeowners. Also, a policy expert says tax breaks for homeowners last year helped stabilize the housing market and with those having expired the market is returning to a slump.
- House Republicans Eliminated Foreclosure Prevention Program. “Republicans, ignoring a veto threat from the White House, pushed a bill through the House on Tuesday that would eliminate a foreclosure prevention program that provides financial incentives to mortgage servicers who modify loans for homeowners who are behind on their payments. The House voted 252-170, mostly along party lines, to terminate the $30 billion Home Affordable Modification Program and redirect unspent funds toward reducing the deficit. Republicans argue that the program forces taxpayers to bail out banks at a time when budget cuts are needed to strengthen the economy. The lawmakers also say the program has failed to prevent many foreclosures and has left some homeowners worse off.” [New York Times, 3/29/11]
- House Republicans Voted To End A Program That Repurchased Foreclosed Homes. On March 16, 2011, House Republicans voted for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program Termination Act. According to The Hill, the bill would end “a program that funds the repurchase of foreclosed homes. Republicans charge this program creates incentives for banks to foreclose on troubled borrowers.” [HR 861, Vote# 188, 3/16/11; The Hill, 2/24/11]
- House Republicans Voted to End Program Lending Money To People Facing Foreclosure. On March 11, 2011, House Republicans voted for Emergency Mortgage Relief Program Termination Act. According to the Hill, the bill “would end the Department of Housing and Urban Development's program of lending money to borrowers who are facing foreclosure. Republicans argue that these loans only add to the indebtedness of borrowers who are not in a position to keep up with their payments.” [HR 836, Vote #174, 3/11/11; The Hill, 2/24/11]
- Home Values Are Returning to a Free Fall. According to a nationwide analysis by the website Zilow, home prices in the 2011 first-quarter Real Estate Market Report showed median home values dropped three percent compared to the same quarter in 2010. More homeowners now owe more money on their homes than the home is worth. James W. Hughes, the dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University said that because tax breaks for homeowners expired and the tax breaks’ resulting price stabilization has waned, “we lost that momentum and we’re starting to see [prices] dropping again.” [Asbury Park Press, 5/13/11]
- Confidence in the Housing Market Has Returned to a Slump. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, April sales and construction of U.S. homes “probably hovered around the lows reached during the recession.” The housing market has continued to experience falling real-estate values, more unsold homes and foreclosures in the pipeline contributing to slowed sales and construction. A chief economist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York said, "We're still in the doldrums in the housing market." Home purchases reached a 13-year low in 2010 with 4.91 million homes sold and confidence among homebuilders has remained at recession levels. [San Francisco Chronicle, 5/14/11]