Friday, February 20, 2009

Moran Addresses Housing Issues While In Loudoun

During a press conference in front of a home under foreclosure in Loudoun County, Brian Moran announced his “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights” which would help homeowners stay in their homes, stop deceptive loan practices, and help protect neighborhood home values. This announcement comes as President Barack Obama has announced an initiative to address housing issues and the number of foreclosures in Virginia has been greatly accelerating in recent months.

To give a brief glimpse into the growing problem, Brian pointed out that Virginia jumped from 25th in the country in foreclosures in 2007 to 11th in 2008; there were 5,000 foreclosure fillings in Virginia in January 2009 alone; and the second biggest surge of foreclosures nationally was in Woodbridge which spiked 414%. Norfolk has also seen a large increase as its number of foreclosures has spiked 155%. What is also very disturbing is how foreclosures in towns where members of our armed forces live are increasing at a rate 4 times faster than the national average. At a time when our soldiers are risking their lives in service of our country, it is simply unacceptable that so many of their families are at risk of losing their home.

These statistics are just part of the reason that we need to have some concrete action taken to address the housing issues here in Virginia. Brian appears to understand the need for urgent action and spoke about the need for immediate action during the press conference this morning.
Virginia’s families are getting squeezed. Our next Governor needs to keep fighting for the family dinner table, not the corporate board room. The Bush Administration and politicians like them have spent all their time focused on Wall Street. I’m extending a lifeline to Main Street. This Homeowners’ Bill of Rights will help more Virginians live their American dream.

We can’t wait and expect the crisis homeowners are facing to go away. Urgent action is needed now because the family dinner table is in jeopardy, literally. I’m going to fight hard to enact this Bill of Rights on day one as Governor.
The Homeowners’ Bill of Rights that he was proposing would:
  1. Ban the worst practices of deceptive lenders. The proposal bans predatory mortgage lending, where lenders trick homeowners into refinancing; stops deceptive mortgages, which strip people of home equity; prevents mortgage brokers and lenders from taking advantage of homebuyers; and prohibits pushing families into bad mortgages when the borrower qualifies for one that is less expensive. Virginia will join 25 states that have banned negative amortizing mortgages.
  2. 90-day foreclosure delays. The plan expands default protection for delinquent homeowners to a 90-day period so people can catch up on payments. It will also freeze the foreclosure process for military families until 90 days after they return from deployment.
  3. Expand education for borrowers. The HOBR will ensure that people know the dangers of subprime loans before agreeing to them, require mortgage servicers to send notice and information on alternatives, educate senior citizens about financial scams, and strengthen penalties for those that prey on our most vulnerable citizens. We will deploy a foreclosure prevention program with a hotline, website and other information sources to reduce foreclosures.
  4. Protect neighbors and renters. Under this plan, Virginia would require that the owners of foreclosed homes (often banks) maintain properties to reduce blight and prevent other home values from declining unnecessarily. HOBR will also provide relief to renters by requiring 60-day notice upon the foreclosure of a rental building so renters can have adequate time to find new places to live.
After Brian made his announcement I asked him about the cost of the program, but he was very quick to point out that the costs would be extremely minimal. More importantly, there are steps in his proposal that would help to ensure that home values in neighborhoods surrounding foreclosed homes wouldn't be negatively impacted. Obviously this helps these homeowners, but it also means that local governments won't be losing income in tax revenues. In other words, it's a win win situation in regards to funds.

While I'd like to see more action taken in regards to people who are currently facing foreclosure, I'm pleased Brian has put forward a plan for how to prevent some of the practices that got us into the situation in the first place. In a time when so many families are struggling to simply pay the bills (if they can even do that), I am also pleased to see that this is just one of the many ways Moran has illustrated that he understands the need to stand up for the working class.

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