Dean Heller Changes His Tune On Housing

Senator Dean Heller has just changed his tune regarding federal assistance to help underwater homeowners and mitigate the foreclosure crisis in Nevada. He has an extensive record of voting against federal foreclosure programs, yet has now suddenly decided such federal assistance is necessary.

“Senator Heller appears to have come down with a case of the Romney flip-flops. Surely he doesn’t think Nevadans will suddenly consider him a champion of foreclosure assistance despite his long record of voting against efforts to help,” said Matt Thornton, spokesman for American Bridge 21st Century.

BACKGROUND

Heller Said Government Has To Be Part Of The Solution To The Housing Crisis

Heller Called For Government Intervention In Housing Crisis. According to the Associated Press, “Heller also suggested that the housing crisis that has pummeled Nevadans cannot be resolved by the private market alone. He noted millions of homes are underwater, including many in Nevada, and said the nation cannot fix the jobs market without first tending to its foreclosure problem. ‘How long is it going to take for supply and demand to meet at that rate? We are talking six or seven more years,’ he said. ‘So something has to change, something has to be different. Clearly, the incentives of financial institutions are wrong.’ Heller said lenders should allow borrowers to lease their foreclosed houses for up to five years to help combat neighborhood blight that can drive down property values.” [Associated Press, 2/24/12]

But the reality is while homeowners in Nevada are struggling through an economic recession and facing the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, Heller has voted time and again to block and de-fund programs to help revitalize Nevada neighborhoods and reign in irresponsible banking practices.

Video: Heller Said He Voted Against Everything That Could Help Underwater Homeowners. In reference to Romney saying the government shouldn’t help homeowners and let foreclosures run their course, on the Fox and Friends program Heller said, “Government is having trouble getting us out, they have so many programs out there. I voted against all of them because they simply don’t work.” [Fox and Friends, 10/19/11]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs_d7JboUHs

Heller Opposed Efforts To Help Struggling Homeowners Modify Their Loans

Heller Voted Against Giving Struggling Families Trying To Avoid Foreclosure The Same Bankruptcy Protections As Yacht-Owners. In March 2009, Heller voted against House’s version of the Helping Families Save their Home Act, which would have allowed, as a last resort, bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgages on primary residences. According to the Las Vegas Sun, “Judges have authority to rework the terms of loans on second homes or vacation properties—even yachts. Supporters say homeowners in distress should enjoy the same option.” [Vote 104, 3/05/09; Las Vegas Sun, 3/17/09]

Heller Voted Against Efforts To Prevent Foreclosure By Negotiating Principal To Fair Market Value. Heller voted against the Marshall, D-GA, amendment to H.R. 4173 that allowed bankruptcy courts to adjust the principal balance of a mortgage to a home’s fair market value in order to prevent foreclosure. The amendment also extended repayment periods, reduced excessive interest rates and fees, and allow the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Federal Housing Authority, and the Rural Housing Service to facilitate mortgage modifications. The amendment failed, Failed 188-241 [House Vote 963, HR 4173, 12/11/09]

Heller Voted Against Allowing Federal Housing Administration To Adjust Mortgage Insurance Premiums. Heller voted against the Perlmuter, D-CO, rule H Res 1424 to allow the House to consider HR 5072. This bill would provide the Federal Housing Administration with the authority to adjust the premium structure for mortgage insurance. [House Vote 340, HR 5072, 6/9/10, Passed 239-172 D 239-4 R 0-168]

Heller Voted Five Times Against A Bill To Help Neighborhoods Recover From The Foreclosure Crisis

Heller Voted Against Grants And Loans For Foreclosed Properties, Housing Assistance For Working Families. In May 2008, Dean Heller voted against a bill that would establish a loan and grant program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, for states and localities to buy and rehabilitate foreclosed properties. The bill would authorize $7.5 billion for zero-interest loans and $7.5 billion for grants. The bill would direct states to allocate funds to the 100 largest cities with high foreclosure rates and 50 most populous counties. Properties purchased for rental with the funds could serve only families having incomes at or below the area’s median income. [Congressional Quarterly; HR 5818, Vote #299, 5/08/08]

Heller Also Voted Four Times To Block The Neighborhood Stabilization Act Of 2008. In May 2008, Heller voted four separate times to stall legislation that would provide $15 billion to help communities recover from the foreclosure crisis and help provide housing to low-income families. [HR 5818, Vote #292, 5/07/08; HR 5818, Vote #287, 5/07/08; HR 5818, Vote #288, 5/07/08; HR 5818, Vote #290, 5/07/08]

191.1 Million Worth Of Grants Approved For Nevada Under The Neighborhood Stability Program. As of the end of May 2011, the Department of Housing and Urban Development had approved over $191.1 Million to projects in Nevada under the Neighborhood Stability Progam (NSP). This includes $53.8 million dollars from the third round of NSP funding. [Neighborhood Stabilization Program, search terms Nevada and NSP3 accessed 5/31/2011]

Heller Voted To End Four Different Programs Aimed At The Foreclosure Crisis

Heller Voted To Terminate The Federal Housing Authority Refinance Program. Heller voted for HR 830 that terminated and rescinded unused funds from the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Refinance Program, which provided refinancing assistance to homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home. [House Vote 171, HR 830, 3/10/11, Passed 256-171 D 18-170 R 238-1]

Heller Voted To Terminate $53.8 In Grants For Nevada Under The Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Heller voted for HR 861 which rescinded the third round of funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and terminated the program. The program provided redevelopment assistance to 270 states and local governments with a large number of vacant properties due to high foreclosure rate. As of the end of May 2011, the Department of Housing and Urban Development had approved over $53.8 million dollars for projects in Nevada from the third round of NSP funding. [House Vote 188, HR 861, 3/16/11, Passed 242-182 D 5-180 R 237-2, Neighborhood Stabilization Program, search terms Nevada and NSP3 accessed 5/31/2011]

Heller Voted To End Home Affordable Modification Program That Aided Over 17,000 Nevadans. Heller voted for HR 839. The bill would terminate the authority of the Treasury Department to provide new assistance under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The program provided financial incentives to banks to support reductions in borrower’s monthly payments. Joe Heck’s Office noted that the program helps Nevadans stay in their homes and as of January 2011, 17,860 Nevadans have participated in HAMP, with over 14,000 in the Las Vegas-Paradise area alone. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, HAMP permanently modified loans “re-default at a lower rate than industry norms.” [House Vote 198, HR 839, 3/29/11, Passed 252-170 D 18-168 R 234-2; Joe Heck Press Release, 3/29/11; Department of Housing and Urban Development Press Release, 1/31/11]

Heller Voted To End Emergency Mortgage Relief Program. Heller voted for HR 836, which rescinded all unobligated Emergency Mortgage Relief Program (HEMP) funds and terminated the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program. The program provided mortgage assistance to mortgage owners who suffered financial hardships due to circumstances beyond their control, such as job loss, and have good prospect to resume normal mortgage payments within 36 months. [House Vote 174, HR 836, 3/11/11, Passed 242-177 D 8-175 R 234-2]

Heller Voted Against Notifying Citizens Of Termination Of Emergency Mortgage Relief Program. Heller voted against the Waters, D-CA, amendment to HR 836 that would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to publish on its website a statement notifying citizens that the Emergency Mortgage Relief program was terminated and directed homeowners concerned about being able to pay their mortgage to contact their member of Congress. [House Vote 172, HR 836, 3/11/11, Failed 185-237 D 176-9 R 9-228]

Heller Opposed Legal Aid And Refinancing Help For Struggling Homeowners

Heller Opposed Amendment to Require Funding Commitment for Foreclosure Mitigation. In 2009, Dean Heller voted against an amendment to the TARP bill to commit between $40 billion and $100 billion for foreclosure mitigation. The funds were to could from the second $350 billion provided under the 2008 law to buy certain mortgage assets. The amendment was adopted in committee of the whole by 275-152. [CQ House Action Report, 1/15/09; HR384, Vote #19, 1/15/09]

Heller Voted Against Providing Legal Aid To Owners Of Foreclosed Homes. Heller voted against a motion to suspend the rules and pass HR 5510 that would allow the Treasury Secretary to use unobligated Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds for legal assistance to homeowners who have mortgages in or in danger of foreclosure or default. [House Vote 655, HR 5510, 12/17/10, Passed 210-145 D 204-5 R 6-140]

Heller Voted Against Providing Assistance To Senior Homeowners. Heller voted against a motion to recommit HR 830 and that would direct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine and provide the amount of funds necessary to assist senior homeowners under the Federal Housing Authority Refinance Program, which provided refinancing assistance to homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home. [House Vote 170, HR 830, 3/10/11, Rejected 185-239 D 185-4 R 0-239]