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Words From Wahington

Help for homeowners

Owning your own home is a cornerstone of the American dream. Home-ownership strengthens our families and communities - bolstering civic pride, responsibility, and fueling our economy. It's important to offer hard-working families a hand-up towards responsible home-ownership.

That means lowering taxes so that it's easier for families to save, strengthening the housing market and promoting responsible lending practices.

The key is finding a balance between helping true victims of predatory lending without rewarding lenders and those who gamed the system. American taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for costs incurred by irresponsible lending institutions.

A taxpayer funded bailout would send a signal to reckless lenders that when they willingly take on excessive risk, the federal government will step in and wipe the slate clean. This would be unwise and an invitation for others to take gambles that all Americans end up paying for.

I'm co-sponsoring and supporting a plan in Congress aimed at helping struggling homeowners, while avoiding a taxpayer funded bailout, and paving the way for more accountability within the mortgage industry going forward.

Through additional flexibility and incentives, the bill would help struggling homeowners make the shift into more affordable loan repayment programs. Getting homeowners switched from a mortgage they cannot pay to one they can just makes common sense and should be encouraged by the government. When homeowners and lenders are able to transition into agreements that prevent foreclosures everyone ends up better off. Homeowners get to stay in their homes, communities are not flooded with foreclosed properties, and lenders get paid.

The bill also sets more effective standards for consumer protection. It includes new licensing requirements for mortgage companies, provides greater financial counseling opportunities and requires that more complete information is disclosed during the home-buying process so that consumers can make better informed decisions. Improvements are made to increase the accuracy of home appraisals and efforts to prevent mortgage fraud are strengthened.

And, to support our nation's veterans, the bill improves VA housing loans and enhances foreclosure protections for our troops returning from overseas.

The plan I'm backing would help stabilize the housing market, assist homeowners, and is fair to those who follow the rules and meet their financial obligations. I'm hopeful that Congress will act quickly to pass this bill into law.

Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's Fourth Congressional District.

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