Sunday, July 27, 2008


Menendez, member of Senate Banking Committee, was able to include amendments to help children uprooted by foreclosures, boost financial literacy programs

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, a major piece of legislation to provide relief for families who are struggling to keep their homes and to stabilize the market. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Banking Committee who has been a major advocate for a strong federal response to the foreclosure crisis, voted in favor of the housing bill and praised it as an important step toward boosting our economy and providing relief to homeowners.

“This bill is about stopping the collapse of the housing market and helping millions of American families hold on to their homes. It’s also about shoring up a foundational pillar of our entire economy,” said Sen. Menendez. “The bill helps everyone from first-time homebuyers to returning veterans to make an investment in a home and continue to live the American Dream.”

“American families are the ones taking the direct hit in this economic downturn. They are receiving foreclosure notices, they are struggling to balance their checkbooks and they are reaching out to Congress for help. This is an important bill that takes us in the right direction, by boosting our economy while at the same time addressing the root cause of our current economic problems – the housing market. I am glad that President Bush this week finally retracted his cold-hearted veto threat of this bill – it has taken him far too long to wake up to the housing crisis.”

The bill includes provisions requested by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in order to increase confidence of the financial markets in Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank System.

Regarding those, Senator Menendez said, “With this increased authority comes increased responsibility for federal regulators, and I will work to ensure that the Congress and the Banking Committee keep a tight watch on them and implement strong oversight. Our taxpayers deserve no less.”

Senator Menendez also reacted to the inclusion of two of his amendments in the bill, one to assist children uprooted by foreclosures and one to promote better financial literacy for homebuyers and homeowners.

“I am also pleased that this bill includes two provisions that I championed,” said Senator Menendez. “Promoting better financial education among prospective homeowners will help make sure they are armed with the information and knowledge that helps them make the best decisions about their mortgages. By helping ensure that children who are forced to move from their homes do not also have to leave their schools, we can avoid interrupting crucial developmental years for our children while easing the strain on our nation’s school systems.”

Menendez Amendment for children affected by foreclosures: It is estimated that nearly two million children will be directly impacted by the mortgage crisis. Loss of housing can have devastating emotional consequences for children and youth. In response, Senator Menendez authored and helped pass an amendment that will authorize an infusion of funds to school districts across the country through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education program to help ensure that students who are forced to move from their homes do not also have to leave their schools. More McKinney-Vento funding will enable school districts to provide the counseling and other assistance necessary to help children and youth with the emotional trauma caused by homelessness.

Menendez Financial Counseling Amendment: The Menendez Financial Counseling amendment will lead to better financial education among prospective homeowners and help identify the most successful methods for delivering counseling services. The amendment simply allows states to use their administrative expenses to improve their financial education and housing counseling services and authorizes pilot projects to help determine the most effective methods for providing housing counseling and financial education.

The bill includes a major overhaul of our mortgage financing system; it allows qualified homeowners who are struggling to refinance and lock-in more affordable loans, making terms and regulations more transparent and investing millions of dollars to help expand financial counseling programs.

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