WASHINGTON (5/09/08)—The House approved two housing measures Thursday including a major rescue bill (H.R. 3221) that would establish a $300 billion fund for mortgage insurance. The comprehensive measure combined a cluster of bills that have been wending their ways through the legislative process. They include:
*H.R. 5720, the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008; * H.R. 5830, the Federal Housing Administration Housing (FHA) and Homeowner Retention Act; * H.R. 1852, the Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2007; * H.R. 1427, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007; and * H.R. 5579, the Emergency Mortgage Loan Modification Act of 2008.
Under provisions of the final bill, the mortgage insurance fund would be under the authority of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Federal Housing Administrating (FHA). It is expected to provide aid for approximately half a million borrowers struggling to hang onto their homes. The program would allow certain mortgage holders to get an FHA guarantee on a loan if they write down the principal amount. The other housing bill passed by the House yesterday was H.R. 5818, the Neighborhood Stabilization Act, which would provide states and cities with funds to help prevent rising foreclosures in neighborhoods. The bills now must go to the Senate for a vote. If passed by the Senate, they must be signed by the President to become law. However, the White House has made it clear that it has strong reservations about some provisions in the larger housing package.