Homeowners, Advocacy Groups and Lawmakers Join Fight to Fire Federal Housing Chief

Homeowners, advocacy groups and lawmakers say that the Federal Housing Financial Agency chief refuses to do all he can to help struggling borrowers.

Millions of homeowners collectively heaved a sigh of relief when the attorneys general in 49 states reached a foreclosure settlement with five of the nation’s top mortgage lenders. Sellou Diait wasn’t one of the homeowners in dispute.

Like a majority of Americans, the Springfield, MA, resident’s mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which makes her ineligible to take advantage of the settlement. But, according to several House Democrats, including several Congressional Black Caucus members, Ed DeMarco, head of the Federal Housing Financial Agency (FHFA) that oversees Fannie and Freddie, could offer similar terms that would allow millions more borrowers to keep their homes. Diait joined other struggling homeowners, lawmakers and advocates at a Capitol Hill rally last week to call on President Obama to fire DeMarco if he continues to ignore their pleas for help.

The rally attendees delivered 85,000 petition signatures collected by Rebuild the Dream and The New Bottom Line to FHFA and the White House, calling on DeMarco to provide principal reductions for homeowners whose mortgages are now higher than their properties are worth and other assistance.

“This is a movement,” Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., told “We’ve got to get real solutions for homeowners who are losing their houses.”

Diait and her husband fell two months behind on the Fannie Mae-backed mortgage two years ago when her sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and needed their financial assistance. Their attempt to get a loan modification echoes the frustrations of millions of others.

“They keep asking you for the same papers over and over. Sometimes they say they don’t receive them. You send them overnight, and they say they didn’t receive it,” Diait, a telephone-line repairperson, told

Although she continued to send payments, the bank refused to help them unless it received all that was owed. The stress caused Diait’s husband to leave both her and their home, but she is determined to fight to stay in the house, even though it was foreclosed on in November.

“[My husband] didn’t want to deal with it, but I’m dedicated to keep fighting and fighting,” said Diait, whose been saving the monthly mortgage payments. “I think I’ll succeed.”

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(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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