Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Stave Off Foreclosure

Legislation would force lenders to treat consumers more fairly.

Posted: 04/14/2011 09:44 AM EDT

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and 23 other members of Congress have introduced legislation that would make mortgage services treat homeowners facing possible foreclosure more fairly and hold them accountable if they don’t.

Cummings on Thursday likened the foreclosure crisis to a “wrecking ball” that has impacted African-Americans the most. Since 2007, he said, there have been 6.6 million foreclosure filings five million have been completed foreclosures it is predicted that three million will occur this year. African-Americans, who were in many cases unfairly targeted by mortgage lenders who offered them sub-prime loans even when they were eligible to receive prime loans, have been victimized yet again because of the abusive practices of lenders’ during the loan modification process that include signing thousands of false affidavits, inflating fees and aggressively pursuing foreclosure when modification is underway, according to the Maryland lawmaker.

The Preserving Homes and Communities Act of 2011 aims to overhaul the mortgage servicing and foreclosure process to end such practices. It would require lenders and servicers to evaluate homeowners for affordable modifications before initiating foreclosure and stop preventable foreclosures. H.R. 1477 also would eliminate dual tracking, which has allowed mortgagers to proceed with foreclosure proceedings while simultaneously evaluating borrowers for loan modifications. And it creates an appeals process for homeowners who are denied a loan modification. If a lender or servicer does not comply with the legislation during a foreclosure proceeding, the foreclosure would be stopped. A similar bill, S. 489, was introduced in the Senate last month and has nine co-sponsors.

“We are confronting a fundamentally broken system, and with millions more homes on the brink of foreclosure, Congress must take action,” Cummings said. “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.”


(Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)