WASHINGTON - Black Congressman Elijah E. Cummings today was joined by more than 20 original co-sponsors in introducing H.R. 1477, the Preserving Homes and Communities Act of 2011. The Preserving Homes Act is designed to stop mortgage servicer activities that are harming America’s economic recovery, and to help keep Americans in their homes by ensuring a fair playing field for consumers and banks.
“The foreclosure crisis and the alleged fraudulent activities by mortgage servicers continue to cost millions their shot at the American Dream. They jeopardize the stability of communities across the country and undermine our economic recovery,” said Cummings. “We are confronting a fundamentally broken system, and with millions more homes on the brink of foreclosure, Congress must take action. This legislation will increase consumer protections, level the playing field at the bargaining table, and hold banks and servicers accountable for providing relief to qualified homeowners.”
The Preserving Homes Act would make major changes to the mortgage servicing and foreclosure process including:
Expanding and improving loan modification programs by requiring lenders and servicers to evaluate homeowners for sustainable modifications prior to initiating foreclosure, and to offer approved modifications to qualified homeowners.
Eliminating the “dual tracking” scenario in which borrowers are evaluated for a loan modification while foreclosure proceedings are advanced.
Responding to the recent “robo-signing” allegations by requiring servicers, if they deny a modification, to prove that they actually have the legal right to foreclose.
Placing reasonable limits on the manner in which foreclosure-related fees can be charged.
Creating an appeals process for those homeowners who are denied a loan modification.
Since 2007, our nation has experienced 6.6 million foreclosure filings and 5 million completed foreclosures, and 3 million more foreclosures are predicted to occur in 2011. In the current quasi-regulated foreclosure landscape, servicers allegedly engaged in systemic fraud and abuse nationwide. Investigations by all 50 state Attorneys General into the allegations of misconduct by the mortgage servicers have uncovered “critical deficiencies . . . in foreclosure preparation and oversight, resulting in violations of state and local foreclosure laws, regulations and rules.” Allegations include signing tens of thousands of false affidavits, inflating fees, illegal actions against our troops and veterans, and aggressively pursuing foreclosure when modification is already underway.
H.R. 1477 is the companion bill to legislation authored by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), S.489, which has nine cosponsors in the Senate. The legislation has the support of more than a dozen consumer groups dedicated to keeping people in their homes, including: Center for Responsible Lending, National Council of La Raza, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Consumer Law Center, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Center for NYC Neighborhoods, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Community Organizations in Action, Alliance for a Just Society, Main Street Alliance, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Consumer Action, and Americans for Financial Reform
Cummings sent a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) requesting a detailed briefing on the results of the OCC’s investigation into allegations that mortgage servicing companies engaged in systematic abuses against homeowners facing foreclosure. Given the serious concerns raised by consumer groups and other entities, he asked the OCC to consider postponing any further action on a consent order currently being negotiated between the agency, the four major U.S. regulators and mortgage servicers. The OCC plans to brief Cummings on the abuses the agency identified in during its investigation.
Original Cosponsors in the House include: Reps. Hansen Clarke, George Miller, Brad Miller, William Lacy Clay, Shelley Berkley, Anna Eshoo, Lynn Woolsey, Peter Welch, Jackie Speier, John Garamendi, Corrine Brown, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Raul Grijalva, Maurice Hinchey, Donna Edwards, Rush Holt, David Cicciline, Gwen Moore,Betty Sutton, Jan Schakowsky, John Tierney, Alcee Hastings, and Rep. Al Green.