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Foreclosure Crisis

Sen. Harry Reid

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Mr. President, in this country, owning a home means more than a roof over your head. It is the centerpiece of the American Dream.

For many responsible Americans, the dream of home ownership has become a nightmare. When Wall Street greed collapsed the economy in 2008, the housing market also collapsed. That meant free-falling home prices and a staggering number of foreclosures.

No State in the Union was hit harder than Nevada, but California was hit extremely hard, Michigan, Arizona, and Florida. But for 5 consecutive years, Nevada has led the Nation in foreclosures. The foreclosure rate in Nevada is 400 percent of the national average.

Behind those statistics are people. Whether it is Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Michigan, or anyplace else in the country, statistics are people--families who bought homes where they could raise their families and enjoy life. Many Nevadans, like other Americans who worked hard, saved money and shopped responsibly, are now so far under water they can't see a way out.

So who is responsible? There is plenty of blame to go around. Brokers sold loans that could never be repaid, buyers bought houses they couldn't afford, and banks bought bad loans to sell to investors. 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 watch the market hit rock bottom, as one Republican candidate suggested. The President and Congress have taken action to ease this crisis. Not everything we have done to ease the crisis has worked, but we need to continue programs that are working and fix the ones that aren't. I support the President's efforts to reduce the hurdles to financing, and refinancing, for sure. Nearly 15 million Americans could benefit from refinancing their loans at today's historically low interest rates.

We must keep those 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 house is worth, it will help them rebuild the equity they lost because of the collapse in the housing markets.

Redtape should no longer keep responsible homeowners from refinancing their loans and restoring their futures. Redtape, I repeat, should no longer keep responsible homeowners from refinancing their homes and restoring their futures.

There are some who advocate a do-nothing policy. There is nothing we can do to help. They couldn't be more wrong. Here is one example. My Nevada offices have posted several foreclosure workshops. More than 2,000 people have taken the opportunity to sit down and face their lenders--often for the first time. Several thousand more have gotten help from caseworkers in my office. Caseworkers and owners have worked together literally to save homes from the auction block. I am hosting another workshop in Las Vegas this Saturday.

We can't help everyone, but we must do more to help those we can. It is time for more Federal action. It is time to give homeowners in every State the tools they need to hold on to their homes and to hold on to the American Dream.