Communities & Home Ownership

A home is a place to live and the backbone of every community. For generations, home ownership has been the bedrock of the American dream. To strengthen our communities, including truly transforming our most distressed neighborhoods, we must take a comprehensive approach which recognizes the need to connect affordable housing with good schools, good jobs and good transportation.

Bob’s Focus

  • Expanding homeownership and affordable rental opportunities in New Jersey and around the country
  • Helping families and communities deal with high foreclosure rates
  • Ensuring responsible homeowners are able to stay in their homes
  • Empowering communities to plan and implement smart development strategies to support families and businesses
  • Revitalizing distressed neighborhoods

Bob’s Accomplishments

Helping New Jerseyans stay in their homes

Bob introduced the Preserving American Homeownership Act to help families responsibly stay in their homes despite their mortgage being worth more than their home. New Jersey has the highest rate in the nation of homes currently in foreclosure, and Bob’s legislation helps homeowners and lenders by creating a program in which banks reduce the mortgage principal for eligible homeowners. The program is a win-win for everyone: underwater homeowners receive relief on their mortgages, while banks agree to take a short-term reduction for a long-term gain as the housing market recovers.

Bob also introduced the Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act to reduce barriers preventing homeowners from refinancing their mortgages at lower, more affordable rates and support a stronger housing and economic recovery.

Making affordable loans attainable

Bob successfully led the fight in Congress for his bipartisan Homeownership Affordability Act, which maintained higher Federal Housing Administration loan limits for two years to help people in middle-class families obtain more affordable mortgages in high-cost areas like New Jersey.  Bob has also led the fight in Congress against efforts to reduce Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s loan limits, which could disproportionately harm families in higher-cost areas like New Jersey.

Supporting smart development

Bob sponsored the Livable Communities Act to help towns plan and implement development projects that integrate their community's needs for transportation, housing, land use and economic development. The legislation would help areas with low-income housing, increase smart-growth opportunities, promote job creation and economic development, and improve transparency with required community feedback. It would also improve coordination of public investments in infrastructure and reduce redundant federal programs to save taxpayer dollars and reduce red tape.

Keeping banks accountable

Bob chaired hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development and fought for an investigation of abusive foreclosure practices to ensure fairness, transparency, and consistency. He wants banks and mortgage servicers who participated in illegal foreclosure activities to be held accountable to the homeowners they harmed by charging illegal fees or improperly taking away their homes.

Reforming the mortgage market

Bob supported reforms in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 to crack down on abusive and risky mortgage lending and securitization practices that caused the financial crisis and wreaked havoc to our economy and families’ and businesses’ economic position.

Securing housing for people with disabilities

Bob authored the successful bipartisan bill that modernized the Section 811 program, the federal government’s only housing program dedicated to low-income people with disabilities.

Revitalizing distressed areas

Bob introduced the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Act to help revitalize economically distressed communities and improve neighborhood stability and quality of life for residents. The bill would authorize competitive grants to support comprehensive local neighborhood transformation plans that address affordable housing and improve access to transportation, schools, and jobs.