It’s Time to Give Homeowners in Every State the Tools to Hold Onto Their Homes
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the foreclosure crisis. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
In this country, owning a house means more than a roof over your head. It’s the centerpiece of the American Dream.
But for many responsible Americans, the dream of homeownership has become a nightmare.
When Wall Street greed collapsed the economy in 2008, the housing market collapsed along with it. That meant freefalling home prices and a staggering numbers of foreclosures.
No state in the nation was hit harder than Nevada. For five consecutive years, Nevada has led the nation in foreclosures.
The foreclosure rate in Nevada is 400 percent the national average.
Behind those statistics are people – families that bought homes where they could raise their families.
Many Nevadans who worked hard, saved money and shopped responsibly are now so far underwater they can’t see a way out.
In Nevada, three out of every four homeowners are upside down in their mortgages.
So, who is responsible? There’s plenty of blame to go around.
Brokers sold loans that could never be repaid. Buyers bought houses they couldn’t afford. Banks bundled bad loans to sell to investors.
But regardless of who is at fault, millions of homeowners who did everything right are still on the hook for a financial crisis they didn’t cause. Many of them have never missed a payment.
Unlike some Republicans, I don’t believe the answer is to throw up our hands and do nothing.
Homeowners who have watched their equity evaporate don’t have time to sit and wait for the market to reach rock bottom, as one Republican presidential candidate suggested.
Congress and President Obama have taken action to ease this crisis. Not everything we’ve done to ease the crisis has worked. But we need to continue programs that are working, and fix ones that aren’t.
I support the President’s efforts to reduce the hurdles to refinancing. Nearly 15 million Americans could benefit from refinancing their loans at today’s historically low interest rates.
We must keep Americans who have lost their jobs from losing their homes as well. This proposal will help them reduce their monthly payments and save thousands of dollars every year.
And for families who owe more than their houses are worth, it will help them rebuild the equity they lost because of the collapse in housing prices.
Red tape should no longer keep responsible homeowners from refinancing their loans and restoring their futures.
There are some who advocate a do-nothing policy. They say there’s nothing we can do to help. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Here’s just one example: my Nevada offices have hosted several foreclosure workshops. More than 2,000 people have taken the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with their lenders, often for the first time.
Several thousands more have gotten help from caseworkers in my offices. Caseworkers and owners have worked together to literally save homes from the auction block.
My office is hosting another workshop in Las Vegas on Saturday.
We can’t help everyone. But we must do more to help those we can.
It’s time for more federal action.
It’s time to give homeowners in every state – including Nevada – the tools they need to hold onto their homes and hold onto the American Dream.