Stabilizing housing should be square one for any meaningful effort to stimulate the nation's economy and pull it back from the brink of recession. If Congress is serious about averting a further loss of jobs and boosting consumer confidence, it needs to start by shoring up housing, which is the biggest financial asset of most families in this country.
With mortgage interest rates near historic lows, it's time to end the mortgage credit crunch that continues for prospective home buyers who live in high-cost markets, for households with moderate-incomes and for those seeking to buy a home for the first time. Congress has the power to get mortgage money flowing again by allowing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase larger mortgages for a two-year period and tying that to full regulatory reform of these institutions. It can help buyers who have trouble saving up for a big down-payment by modernizing FHA. It can give a shot in the arm to job-producing businesses that have been hurt by the housing downturn by allowing them to carry back net operating losses for five years. And it can make further headway on reducing foreclosures by expanding the mortgage revenue bond program to help sub-prime borrowers refinance into loans they can afford instead of waiting for their loans to reset at a higher interest rate and with a monthly payment beyond their means.
Getting the housing sector growing again is the surest way to stop further deterioration of the U.S. economy.
Rocco Fana Jr
North Coast Building Industry Association