Congresswoman Frederica Wilson - Fighting For Homeowners
Since being sworn into Congress, housing has been one of my foremost priorities. I have fought tirelessly to help homeowners save their homes and protect public housing programs for the most vulnerable members of our community.
In this newsletter, I will outline various initiatives that I have undertaken or supported to help homeowners and protect various housing programs.
While the housing market is slowly recovering from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, I will continue working to help borrowers keep their homes. If you have any questions or concerns about housing, please feel free to contact me.
Frederica S. Wilson
Congresswoman, 17th District of Florida
Standing Up for Homeowners
For me, fighting for homeowners is more than my job – it’s fighting to preserve an American tradition. As a child, I watched my father, a self-made man, worked extremely hard to become one of the first homeowners in Liberty City. Even today, some the memories I recall most vividly took place in that house. I remember the times when my father would have me read to his friends at the age of 3, invite neighbors over to watch popular television shows or talk about politics. Today, my children often share their unforgettable memories that took place in my house. I know why I am fighting.
Since the start of the housing crisis in 2007, over four million homes have been lost through foreclosures1. Today, over 40 percent of mortgages in Florida are underwater2, and nearly 25 percent of mortgages are seriously delinquent or have begun the foreclosure process3.
To help those homeowners, I have:
Introduced H.R. 3505 - Mandatory Foreclosure Mediation Act
I believe that borrowers deserve every opportunity to save their homes. Under my bill, servicers would no longer be able to start foreclosing on properties without offering the borrower a chance at mediation, where the alternatives could be discussed. Upon the passage of my bill, servicers would also be required to suspend foreclosure proceedings that that did not follow the mediation process4. Thousands of South Floridians could save their homes through foreclosure mediation. In some states, as much as 82 percent of borrowers remain in their homes or agree to a foreclosure alternative after going through mediation5.
Hosted the NACA's American Dream Tour
Earlier this year, I worked closely with the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) to host a housing conference, where thousands of homeowners from Miami-Dade and Broward counties received foreclosure assistance or were able to secure new low interest mortgage loans.
Advocated for Principal Reduction
This past February, I joined 116 members of Congress in sending a letter to FHFA Director Ed DeMarco, in which we urged him to authorize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer principal reduction to underwater borrowers. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and leading economists such as Mark Zandi, from Moody's Analytics, have supported principal reduction as mean to spur the housing market’s recovery.
Supported President Obama’s Efforts
I commended the Obama Administration for reaching a $25 billion settlement with financial institutions. Florida’s $8.4 billion share will support refinancing, principal reduction and foreclosure prevention programs6. Just this month, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that she’s seeking public comments regarding how to best use $300 million to help struggling homeowners.
Fighting CDBG Cuts
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program has been a critical source of flexible funding for many cities throughout our nation, enabling them to undertake housing projects and provide critical services to vulnerable Americans. In Fiscal Year 2012, many South Florida cities experienced deep cuts as a result of new census data and budget cuts7. To mitigate the impact of these cuts, I have:
Supported Flexibility Legislation
Since the CDBG cuts were announced, I have cosponsored Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's bill (H.R. 2183) to increase the CDBG social services spending cap, from 15 to 25 percent.
Submitted Two CDBG Appropriation Requests
I submitted an appropriations request to enable CDBG recipients to use up to 25 of their CDBG funds towards social services. Additionally, I joined several members of Congress in submitting a request for a 20 percent increase in CDBG funding for FY 2013.
Supporting Affordable Housing Projects
In January, I joined U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Southeast Regional Administrator Ed Jennings Jr. and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing Marie Head to announce a $300,000 CHOICE planning grant to the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation (CDC). Opa-Locka CDC will use this funding to transform Nile Gardens into a more livable and sustainable community.
1 SCHWARTZ, Nelson D., and J. B. SILVER-GREENBERG. "Bank Officials Cited in Churn of Foreclosures." The New York Times, 3 Mar. 2012. Web. 13 May 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/business/federal-report-cites-bank-officials-in-foreclosure-surge.html?pagewanted=all>.
2 Sauter, Michael B. "10 States Sunk by Underwater Mortgages." Yahoo, 6 Mar. 2012. Web. 13 May 2012. <http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/10-states-sunk-by-underwater-mortgages.html>.
3 Owers, Paul. "South Florida Tops Nation in Distressed Mortgages." Sun-Sentinel, 9 May 2012. Web. 13 May 2012. <http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/business/realestate/housekeys/blog/2012/05/south_florida_tops_nation_in_d_1.html>.
4 "H.R.3595 - Mandatory Foreclosure Mediation Act." Thomas. The Library of Congress, 12 Dec. 2011. Web. 14 May 2012. <http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d112:10:./temp/~bd4N3Y::|/bss/|>.
5 "Financial Services Subcommittee Holds Field Hearings Next Week in Texas and Nevada."Financial. House Committee on Financial Services, 9 Mar. 2012. Web. 14 May 2012. <http://financialservices.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=284286>.
6 Olorunnipa, Toluse. "Landmark Settlement with Mortgage Lenders Provides Relief for Some Struggling Home Owners Read More Here: Http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/09/2634050/landmark-settlement-with-mortgage.html#storylink=cpy." The Miami Herald, 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 13 May 2012. <http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/09/2634050/landmark-settlement-with-mortgage.html>.
7 Rabin, Charles, and Christina Veiga. "Miami-Dade and Its Cities Lead Nation in Federal Cuts for Social Services, Economic Development." The Miami Herald, 02 Feb. 2012. Web. 13 May 2012. <http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/02/22/2655700/miami-dade-and-its-cities-lead.html>.