On Heels of Mortgage Fraud Crackdown, Urban Caucus Chair Applauds Colleagues for Mortgage Reform Initiatives

Jun 18, 2010, 13:03 ET from Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah

WASHINGTON, June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), a senior legislator and author of a major mortgage relief proposal pending in Congress, gave a shout-out to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice for Operation Stolen Dreams with its sweep of 485 arrests nationwide on mortgage fraud charges – a crackdown he advocated two years ago.

In August 2008, Fattah questioned FBI Director Robert Mueller about the lack of resources devoted to mortgage fraud. A month later the FBI announced that it was beefing up its mortgage fraud unit and raising the priority of the investigations.

"Literally billions of dollars in home equity and mortgage payments are being stolen from American homeowners, often from those on the margins who are in constant danger of losing their homes," said Fattah.  "I want to thank Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department for tracking down those responsible."

Fattah praised his colleagues, Brad Miller (D-NC), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Mel Watt (D-NC) and Barney Frank (D-MA) for their work to ensure the consumer is protected at every level of the mortgage process.

"With thousands of troubled mortgages in need of modification," said Fattah, "Representatives Miller and Ellison have introduced sensible legislation to resolve the conflict of interest that prevents large mortgage companies from voluntarily offering modifications services." 

Fattah said, "Congressmen Watt and Frank are keenly aware that predatory lending has been a major factor in the highest home foreclosure rate in 25 years. Their bill, The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act will go a long way to rein in the unscrupulous practices."

Holding accountable those who preyed on vulnerable homeowners is a good first step but Fattah insists there's more to be done.

Fattah is urging his Senate colleagues to make certain that those who are facing foreclosure due to a lost job or illness be provided relief through his Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance (HEMA) program pending before the House-Senate Conference Committee which is hammering out final provisions of broad financial services reform legislation.

HEMA would devote $3 billion in TARP funds for emergency relief to homeowners. The measure has been incorporated into the House version of financial services reform and is modeled after a successful Pennsylvania program that Fattah, as a young state legislator, guided into law in the Keystone State almost three decades ago.

"HEMA works in Pennsylvania and it can work nationally. We have a responsibility as a nation to keep families in their homes when the breadwinner is facing foreclosure through no fault of his or her own because of the national economic downturn," Fattah said.

"HEMA deserves to be part of financial reform, and I urge my colleagues, on both sides of Capitol Hill and both sides of the aisle, to move this worthwhile program into their final legislation," Fattah said.

SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah