Obama Signs Measures to Help with Troubled Mortgages
By Michael A. Fletcher
President Obama today enacted two measures that provide incentives for lenders and loan servicers to make troubled mortgages more affordable. The legislation also streamlines Hope for Homeowners, a government program to refinance "underwater" loans that so far has helped few distressed borrowers.
Obama said the bills also require banks to honor existing leases on foreclosed properties, and provide $2.2 billion to help homeless families. In addition, the measures give federal investigators more tools to crack down on mortgage and commodity fraud.
The bills, which the president signed during a White House ceremony with Congressional leaders, did not include a provision endorsed by Obama that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of troubled home mortgages. That measure died in the Senate under fierce opposition from the financial industry.
Still, Obama said the measures should help the still-struggling economy.
"I believe we're moving in the right direction, but I want to remind everybody that it took many years and many failures to get us here, and it's going to take some time to get us out," Obama said. "The stock market will rise and fall. The job market has taken a beating and won't be back immediately. The housing market still has a long way to go. But I'm confident we will get there."
Posted at 5:27 PM ET on May 20, 2009
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