I just read "Going Once" (March 1). Congratulations. What excellent, multi-layered journalism, so badly needed! Having a background in public-interest journalism and corporate accountability work, I greatly appreciate your thoughtful approach to the difficult issue of home foreclosures.
Routine news stories -- and the standard rhetoric from politicians -- fail to provide a full picture. It's not enough to talk about government policies without bringing the human consequences into sharp focus.
Big banks continue to cause -- and then profit from -- vast numbers of unfair foreclosures. When we understand the magnitude of the injustices and the toll they're taking on people's lives, we can make the kinds of political changes necessary for a more humane system.
Norman Solomon, Inverness Park
We've heard the numbers: More than 34 percent of homeowners with mortgages in California are considered "underwater" because they owe more on their homes than their homes are worth. However, it is beyond the statistics where we see the face of our nation's foreclosure crisis. As detailed in the Journal's March 1 story, "Going Once," the victims of the housing market's collapse are our friends, family members and neighbors.
Our economy will never recover, and consumer confidence will never return if we do not help hard working families navigate this mortgage nightmare. Yet despite the number of homes on the auction block, our national mortgage regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), made a unilateral decision to block all forms of principal write-down for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, underwriters of a majority of the nation's mortgages. This decision has prevented the housing market from recovering more quickly and forced families into foreclosure.
That is why I led more than 110 of my colleagues in Congress in calling on the FHFA to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to engage in principal forgiveness in cases where it benefits both homeowners and taxpayers. Expert opinion has shown that a properly structured principal reduction program could save billions of taxpayer dollars compared to sending underwater homeowners into foreclosure. However, even with the weight of expert opinion, the FHFA has refused to permit Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to write down the principal balances of any underwater mortgages, even in cases where it can be demonstrated that doing so would yield the greatest long-term savings for taxpayers.
Our country faces a national foreclosure crisis and we need a responsible principal reduction plan that will help keep people in their homes.
I will continue to do everything I can to get the FHFA to put policies in place that help people keep their homes. In addition, I urge anyone who is having trouble with their mortgage or home to contact my office in Eureka at 707-269-9595. My office can help or refer you to the proper authorities.
Congressman Mike Thompson