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Housing issues will see committee scrutiny this week
WASHINGTON (2/9/11)—Housing related financial issues are on the agenda of the House Financial Services Committee and its capital markets subcommittee this week, with a Thursday oversight plan hearing featuring discussion of the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae being examined. The GSE hearing, which will take place at 2 p.m. (ET) later today, will focus on actions needed to transition the GSEs out of the federal conservatorship that they have been under since 2008. The subcommittee will also consider ways that the bailout of the GSEs, which has currently cost $150 billion in taxpayer funds, can be ended. Republican House members and other GSE critics have taken issue with taxpayer costs associated with the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Many have also criticized the Obama administration’s HAMP program, which aims to help struggling homeowners by modifying their mortgages. House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) in a Tuesday release labeled the HAMP program a failure. The chairman said that ending HAMP, which the committee is expected to propose during its Thursday hearing, would save $50 billion in taxpayer funds. The Thursday hearing will begin at 10 a.m. (ET). Despite record levels of new foreclosures--2.9 million in 2010 and a projected 3 million in 2011—only 522,000 homes were undergoing permanent modification as of Dec. 21, 2010. However, the Obama administration earlier this month reported that 4.1 million modification arrangements started between April 2009 and the end of 2010, resulting in 1.4 million HAMP trial modification starts and more than 650,000 loss mitigation and early delinquency interventions. The administration also noted that 85% of homeowners with HAMP modified loans remained in their homes. The administration last year claimed that the HAMP program was on course to modify as many as 4 million mortgages by 2012. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has also formed its own GSE Reform Task Force to examine GSE-related issues.

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