Lending industry working to curb rising foreclosures

Given that at least three of the guest articles in The Hill’s May 2 “Special Report: Finance” mentioned rising foreclosures, it’s clear that this topic has attracted the attention of Congress.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is correct in her observation that mortgage companies “are better off not losing borrowers to foreclosure, since it is very costly to lenders as well as to communities…” We would add that lenders want to avoid foreclosure because they offer mortgage products with the goal of enabling successful homeownership.

A number of efforts are under way to begin addressing the challenges within the mortgage sector. Several industry representatives have met with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and his staff to discuss a set of principles intended to reduce foreclosures. The General Accountability Office has been asked to undertake a study to evaluate the level and causes of foreclosures. What’s more, companies themselves are responding to marketplace pressures in a variety of ways, ranging from tightened underwriting to strengthened customer service.

Preserving important borrowing and refinancing options for millions of potential and current homeowners is critical. As Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio) put it, “an overreaction by Congress could lead to the drying up of credit.”

~From Bill Himpler, executive vice president for federal government affairs, American Financial Services Association
, Washington, D.C.


Protection watered down

Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) opinion piece “Federal wetlands protection programs are working,” (April 24) demonstrates that wetlands are vital resources the nation should conserve, but then ignores the imperative for Congress to act to ensure vulnerable water bodies like wetlands and small streams actually get such protection.

Luckily, leaders in both houses of Congress will soon introduce a bill called the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act, which would guarantee that wetlands and small streams are protected by the Clean Water Act. This is crucial because today many of these long-protected water bodies are in legal limbo and polluters are exploiting that uncertainty to argue that the Clean Water Act excludes various waters.

According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, more than half of the miles of streams outside of Alaska do not flow year-round or are otherwise too small to navigate. These streams are among those whose status is under assault, even though source water areas containing such streams contribute to the drinking water of over 110 million Americans.
Likewise, at least 20 percent of the nation’s wetlands are vulnerable.

Sen. Inhofe’s prescription — urging the agencies to rewrite their Clean Water Act rules — shrinks from Congress’s duty and its longstanding commitment to protecting the nation’s waters, and does not provide the certainty we all need.

~ From Jon P. Devine Jr., Clean Water Project, Natural Resources Defense Council,  Washington, D.C.


Rethink Cooke, Pollin

Arthur Delaney’s characterization of the late Jack Kent Cooke as a team owner who “took the Skins away from the city” is long on bombast and short on accuracy (article, “This is a game the city usually loses,” May 2).

Cooke’s plan to build a replacement stadium next to RFK was strongly opposed by neighborhood residents. Similar bids to build a stadium in Alexandria, Va., and Laurel, Md., also failed. Cooke’s team played in the smallest and probably most dilapidated facility in the NFL. It appears his choices were very limited.

Regarding Abe Pollin’s construction of a new arena in Chinatown, it seems likely he observed the debacle involving Cooke and the City Council and decided to pay for the construction himself — so he could see it open in his lifetime. But before Delaney canonizes Pollin, it should be noted that the arena failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that it was necessary to file a lawsuit to compel him to make changes to the arena so that it would become accessible to disabled fans.

~From David Uchic, Washington, D.C.