On Thursday, the House Oversight Subcommittee on Domestic Policy held a hearing entitled “Foreclosures Continue: What Needs to Change in the Administration's Response?” to discuss the Administration’s response to the ongoing foreclosure crisis. Testifying before the Subcommittee were:
- Phyllis Caldwell, Chief Homeownership Preservation Officer, US Department of Treasury
- Bill Sheil, Investigative Reporter, WJW-TV8 Cleveland, Ohio
- Jim Rokakis, Treasurer, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
- Patricia Stringfield, Homeowner, Washington D.C.
- David Berenbaum, Chief Program Officer, National Community Reinvestment Coalition
- Julia Gordon, Senior Policy Counsel, Center for Responsible Lending
- Ronald Faris, President, Ocwen Financial Corporation
- Ed Pinto, Former Chief Credit Officer, Federal National Mortgage Association.
The hearing began with opening statements from various Subcommittee members, and both Democrats and Republicans seemed disappointed in the Administration’s response to the foreclosure crisis. Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), stated that he was “not satisfied” with Treasury’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Kucinich told Phyllis Caldwell, Treasury’s Chief Homeownership Preservation Officer, to consider the hearing to be a “friendly wake-up call.”
Republicans also criticized the HAMP program, with Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) stating that “we have received overwhelming evidence of the failure of the Administration’s policies and programs to stem the tide of mortgage defaults and foreclosures.” Jordan went on to criticize Treasury for not providing the transparency regarding the HAMP program that had been promised when the program was introduced.
Subcommittee members from both sides of the aisle stated that the HAMP program had failed to accomplish the Administration’s promise of assisting 3-4 million homeowners, and emphasized the severity of the foreclosure crisis.
Mr. Kucinich and other representatives from Ohio also expressed concerns about the Administration’s decision to exclude Ohio from a new program announced last week that will designate $1.5 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to fund programs at local housing finance agencies in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Michigan.