July 29, 2009
Frank Statement on the Progress of Reducing Foreclosures
Washington, DC – Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) today welcomed the announcement by Secretaries Geithner and Donovan that the meeting held by their top assistants with representatives of the mortgage servicing industry on July 28th was productive, and that they expect there to be a significant increase in the number of mortgage modifications. But Frank noted that there is great disappointment in both Congress in particular and the country as a whole in the failure of these institutions to do a much better job at modification so far, and he cautioned that if the progress the administration foresees is not soon evident, more drastic legislative measures will be back on the agenda.
“Congress has provided every legislative tool recommended by people in the mortgage industry, and in the administration, that we were told would be helpful in facilitating the modifications we need to diminish the flood of foreclosures which has been so much a part of our national economic problem. The one measure that did not survive the process was the right of individuals to declare bankruptcy for their personal residences, and while many of us strongly supported this and it passed the House, in the Senate the argument that it would be destructive and was unnecessary to achieve modifications succeeded. But the evidence to date does not bear out that latter point: people in the servicing industry and in the broader financial industry must understand that if this last effort to produce significant modifications fails, the argument for reviving the bankruptcy option will be extremely strong, and I think there is a substantial chance that the outcome will be different. I can assure all concerned that no legislation which we are asked to pass to facilitate the full return of the lending industry to the role it should be playing in the economy will pass out of the Financial Services Committee unless we see a significant increase in mortgage modifications and foreclosure-avoidance, or the legislation includes a bankruptcy provision for primary residences.”