Protecting Homeowners, Protecting the Economy
The President has just signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act into law
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The President has just signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act into law, landmark pieces of legislation addressing the problems that helped set off the economic crisis we are fighting through now.
The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act gives the federal government more tools to crack down on the kind of fraud that put thousands of hardworking families at risk of losing their homes despite doing everything right to live within their means. It expands the Department of Justice’s ability to prosecute at virtually every step of the process from predatory lending on Main Street to the manipulation on Wall Street. It also creates a bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the financial practices that brought us to this point, so that we make sure it never happens again.
Before signing it, the President said:
Last year, the Treasury Department received 62,000 reports of mortgage fraud -- more than 5,000 each month. The number of criminal mortgage fraud investigations opened by the FBI has more than doubled over the past three years. And yet, the federal government's ability to investigate and prosecute these frauds is severely hindered by outdated laws and a lack of resources.
And that's why this bill nearly doubles the FBI's mortgage and financial fraud program, allowing it to better target fraud in hard-hit areas. That's why it provides the resources necessary for other law enforcement and federal agencies, from the Department of Justice to the SEC to the Secret Service, to pursue these criminals, bring them to justice, and protect hardworking Americans affected most by these crimes. It's also why it expands DOJ's authority to prosecute fraud that takes place in many of the private institutions not covered under current federal bank fraud criminal statutes -- institutions where more than half of all subprime mortgages came from as recently as four years ago.
The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act expands on the success of the Making Home Affordable Program first announced in February. By reducing foreclosures around the country, the average homeowner could see their house price bolstered by as much as $6,000 as a result of this plan, and as many as 9 million homeowners could get help making their mortgages affordable and avoid preventable foreclosures. This bill makes this help easier to access and take advantage of, helps get credit flowing again, establishes protections for renters living in foreclosed homes, and establishes the right of a homeowner to know who owns their mortgage. It also provides $2.2 billion to address homelessness, helping families be part of the recovery one by one.
Before signing it, the President said:
Let me talk a little bit about the housing bill. The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act advances the goals of our existing housing plan by providing assistance to responsible homeowners and preventing avoidable foreclosures. Last summer, Congress passed the HOPE for Homeowners Act to help families who found themselves "underwater" as a result of declining home values -- families who owed more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. But too many administrative and technical hurdles made it very difficult to navigate, and most borrowers didn't even bother to try.
This bill removes those hurdles, getting folks into sustainable and affordable mortgages, and more importantly, keeping them in their homes. And it expands the reach of our existing housing plan for homeowners with FHA or USDA rural housing loans, providing them with new opportunities to modify or refinance their mortgages to more affordable levels.
Any plan is only as effective as the number of people who take advantage of it. This bill recognized that, but if you think you might benefit from refinancing as millions of other Americans could, go to MakingHomeAffordable.gov to find out if you or your family is eligible. Learn more about these bills through the White House fact sheet out today.