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Garamendi urges Senate to pass home lending reform

July 6, 2010 8:00:22 PM PDT
Few places in the country have been harder hit by the housing crisis than western Contra Costa County. That is where Congressman John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, was Tuesday, urging the Senate to pass comprehensive home lending reform.

Carmela and Troy Hess worry they will lose their Concord home unless they can reach an agreement with the bank to keep it. Troy is a disabled firefighter and paramedic injured rescuing people from a burning building in Oakland in 2004.

"I blew out my right knee, my right hip, and my lower back," said Troy. "And that was pretty much the end of my career."

Carmela is also a paramedic. She has been unable to find work. They say that despite good credit and a perfect payment history, the bank has refused to modify their loan nine times.

"Having good credit, paying your bills on time, never having any issues, really amounts to nothing," she said.

But in Antioch Tuesday they found a glimmer of hope that they may be able to save their home.

"We need to make sure that those homes that have not yet been foreclosed, that they have a chance to turn things around to gain some time and to go back and keep their homes," said Garamendi.

Garamendi's district has been devastated by the housing crisis. There have been 27,000 foreclosures in Antioch alone. He is urging the Senate to pass the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

"The Senate must act on this," he said. "We have to get this done."

It has already passed the House. If it gets to the president's desk, the bill would create a consumer protection agency, require lenders make sure borrowers can afford the loans, prohibit predatory lending that has been blamed for the crisis, establish penalties against lenders and mortgage brokers, and provide financial assistance to distressed homeowners like the Hess family.

It will also help communities like Antioch recover from the housing crisis, providing a billion dollars to clean up and renovate foreclosed homes.

"The foreclosed homes, the banks aren't cleaning up the fronts as they should, so it's making the whole neighborhood go down," said Antioch City Council member Martha Parsons.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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