The Foreclosure Crisis
Is Far From Over

(Photo credit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/respres/ / CC BY 2.0)

In case you missed them, here are two editorials on foreclosure issues that are a must see: OregonLive and the Register-Guard

Greetings,

Session is nearing an end and I thought I should send a quick update on some of the most pressing issues and the breakdown around foreclosure negotiations.  This afternoon the House passed HB 4061 which will create a Special Committee to review allowing Universities to have Public Independent Boards.  That bill now heads to the Senate Floor.  Today, we also passed and sent to the Senate HB 4040, The Oregon Investment Act, which will encourage business investment and will increase resources to support economic development efforts and jobs. 

On a more sour note, negotiations on foreclosure legislation has ended. See my full report below.  Don't miss the Foreclosure Town Hall I am hosting with Lane County Legislators. Keith Dubanevich from the Oregon Attorney General's Office will give us an update on the recent settlement and Angela Martin from Economic Fairness Oregon will also present. See the side panel for full details.

Sincerely,

Phil

 

YOU'RE INVITED!

Town Hall and Coffee
Meetings

Foreclosure Town Hall Meeting with Lane County Legislators:
March 7th: Eugene

6:30 PM at Harris Hall at the Lane County Court House
125 East 8th Street, Eugene
 
Invited Presenters Include: Kieth Dubanevich from the Attorney General's Office, Angela Martin from Economic Fairness Oregon, and a Representative from NEDCO.


Coffees Meetings:
Grab a cup of coffee (no host) and share your thoughts and questions with Senator Lee Beyer and Representative Phil Barnhart

March 6th: Creswell
7:30 AM at Creswell Coffee,
116 Melton Rd, Creswell

March 12th: Walterville
6:30 PM  (Evening Event!)
at Aunt Dings Restaurant,
39297 McKenzie Hwy, Walterville
Aunt Dings needs to know if you are planning to order dinner. Please RSVP to us (not Aunt Dings)  by phone at 541-607-9207 or by email to rep.philbarnhart@state.or.us

March 13th: Brownsville
7:30 AM at
Randy's Main Street Coffee,
250 N. Main Street, Brownsville

March 14th: Harrisburg
7:30 AM at Jake's Cafe
290 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg

I regularly hold coffees, town halls, and speak to other groups around the district.  If you would like me to meet with your group please send me an email to arrange.

Legislative Report

While the recession has ended, the foreclosure crisis is far from over.  We have a chance this Session to help people facing this tragedy; unfortunately the House Republicans are blocking common sense reforms that have proven successful in other states.  This is unacceptable. 

The numbers are striking.  1 in every 11 homeowners is in foreclosure or is delinquent, and 1 in 4 owes more than their house is worth.  People across the district have written to me urging me to do what I can to support common sense foreclosure reform, but not one constituent has contacted me in opposition. 

I supported a package of bills in the House that sought to help working families avoid the trauma of a pending foreclosure.  House Bill 4140 would have allowed underwater homeowners, and those in the process of foreclosure, an opportunity for a face-to-face meeting, mediated by a third party, before a bank could take a home. House Bill 4137, dubbed the Fairness in Mortgage Lending Bill, would have required servicers to respond to a borrower’s information requests in a timely manner, charge fees that were reasonable and transparent, and inform borrowers of the options available for modification and assistance. Neglected foreclosed properties are another ailment of the housing market crash, a widespread public nuisance, and a further detriment to home values and potential sales. House Bill 4138 would have addressed that issue by requiring owners of foreclosed properties to be good neighbors. Blocked by Republican Leadership, not one of these bills received even a public hearing.

The Senate is a different story.  With broad bi-partisan support, the Senate passed two bills (SB 1552 and SB 1564) to tackle foreclosure issues head-on.  These bills proposed very similar fixes to the House package, but also required lenders to end the dual track practice where homeowners are diligently working with one sector of the bank to modify their loan while simultaneously another sector of the bank is pursuing foreclosure.  One of the first constituents who contacted my office about foreclosure issues back in early 2009 fell victim to this dual track process.  The House Republicans have successfully blocked these bills as well and have walked away from negotiations to find common agreement to bring relief for middle class Oregonians. These issues have been known about for some time and Oregonians need real solutions now.  Stall tactics and unwillingness to pass reforms that hold the large national banks accountable for bad business practices are inexcusable. These incidents are not rare, they are real, and they are happening to your friends and neighbors.

I don’t believe the issue of foreclosure should be a partisan one; it clearly wasn’t for many of the Senate Republicans.  It is outrageous to me that the House Republicans have chosen to leave Oregonians in the lurch again this session.  Waiting to “reevaluate” this until 2013 means thousands more Oregonians will needlessly lose their homes.  

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