Senator Menendez believes that every family should have a safe place to live and call their own. Unfortunately, the global economic crisis that resulted from the tsunami of millions of bad mortgages and foreclosures has devastated far too many families and left some without a home.
As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, Senator Menendez has been a Senate leader in addressing and solving foreclosure and housing problems across the nation and especially for the Garden State.
Whether you are renting an apartment or buying your own home, the housing market is important to every New Jerseyan. Foreclosures affect not only the family who loses their home, but also neighboring families who see their home values drop. Building homes, apartments, offices and stores also provides quality jobs, so the revitalization of the housing market is important for our broader economy. Senator Menendez has worked on landmark legislation to address the housing crisis by helping responsible homeowners to save money and stay in their homes and also fought for legislation to revitalize public and private housing.
Foreclosures. As Housing Subcommittee Chairman, he has held multiple hearings to:
- Investigate the foreclosure practices of banks and hold them accountable to homeowners;
- Expand government programs to assist struggling homeowners, helping to stem the tide of foreclosures and begin to stabilize the housing market;
- Address the glut of foreclosed homes on the market.
He has also introduced or supported legislation to:
- Help homeowners refinance their homes more easily and lower their mortgage payments;
- Require federal housing regulators to test “shared appreciation mortgages” in which lenders reduce a homeowner’s mortgage debt in exchange for keeping a portion of future increases in the home’s price;
- Expand loan modification programs and make them more effective;
- Offer more resources for mediation sessions between homeowners and banks;
- Provide additional funds for legal assistance for at-risk homeowners;
- Create a Homeowner Advocate dedicated solely to assisting homeowners.
Holding Banks and Government Accountable. Senator Menendez wants to hold banks and government accountable, fully enforcing our banking and housing laws and doing more for homeowners.
- Helped ensure that the rights of homeowners are upheld by banks;
- Proposed reforms to correct past mistakes and prevent them from happening again;
- Pushed federal regulators to more quickly and effectively help homeowners at risk of losing their homes; including better examining whether principal reductions would help both homeowners and taxpayers;
- Led the effort to hold New Jersey state government accountable for failing to quickly implement the federally-funded HomeKeeper program to give temporary help to unemployed borrowers on their mortgages.
Increasing Access to Affordable Loans. Successfully led the fight in Congress for his bipartisan Homeownership Affordability Act of 2011, which maintained higher FHA loan limits for two years to help people get more affordable mortgages for middle-class homes in high-cost areas like New Jersey.
Federal Funds for New Jersey. Senator Menendez has consistently secured federal funds for New Jersey families in danger of foreclosure and has pushed for state agencies to quickly implement programs designed to help families save their homes. Senator Menendez secured:
- $70 million in federal funding as part of the 2009 economic recovery package for a program to help schoolchildren uprooted by foreclosures remain in their schools and receive educational assistance. The nationwide foreclosure crisis has affected potentially millions of students, including 50,000 in New Jersey, who could find themselves floating from school to school when their family loses their home.
- $300 million from the federal government for programs such as the NJ HomeKeeper Program that will help families who have temporarily lost their jobs and are in danger of foreclosure.
- At least $1.1 billion in federal funding to expand access and improve the quality of homes that middle class New Jerseyans can afford.
Housing for People with Disabilities. Authored the successful bipartisan bill, S. 1481, that modernized the Section 811 program, the federal government’s only housing program dedicated to low-income people with disabilities. The bill was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011. The new law:
- Increases by 3-4 times the number of affordable rental homes for low-income people with disabilities (10,000-15,000 more homes over the first 5 years alone);
- Builds on HUD’s existing Sec. 811 program without additional taxpayer money;
- Allows developers to finance homes for people with disabilities using methods like Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME program funds, and bonds that are already used for most other HUD programs;
- Integrates people with disabilities into communities of people without disabilities.
Revitalizing Distressed Areas. Supports revitalizing distressed areas in New Jersey and across the nation to improve neighborhood stability and quality of life for residents.
- Authored the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative bill, S. 624, that will build on the successful HOPE VI program to help revitalize distressed areas.
Encouraging Regional Planning. Supports regional planning that addresses the intersections between housing, transportation, jobs, and the environment, and that takes everyone’s concerns into account.
- Authored the Livable Communities Act, S.1621, to allow federal grants for regional planning. Secured regional planning grant for North and Central Jersey.
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