Friday, February 19, 2010

Mr. President Is Here... And Yes, He's Here to Help!

And jeez, what a time for me to be sick! Sorry that I can't be at Green Valley HS in person today. If you were to see the hot mess that I'm looking like right now, you'd understand.

So anyway, here's a preview of what to expect today. President Obama will today announce a new foreclosure rescue program that will bring $1.5 billion in aid to the states hardest hit by the real estate crash (like ours!) to assist state and local housing agencies in reworking mortgages and keeping people in their homes.

Under the program, state housing departments in Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan will share $1.5 billion toward foreclosure aid.

The money will be divided by a formula based on the number of unemployed residents and the decline in home prices, which means California and the bigger states would likely get the lion’s share. Nevada is expected to receive at least $100 million.

The feds are unleashing the funds to encourage the states to tap innovative ways to help homeowners, saying states have expertise in local market conditions. A White House official pointed to programs under way in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania as possible models.

States could use the money to:

• Provide bridge loans, as is being done in Pennsylvania, to help unemployed homeowners pay the mortgage until they land jobs.

• Provide incentives to lenders to rewrite upside-down mortgages — when a homeowner owes more than the home is worth, as is the case in 70 percent of Las Vegas.

• Provide incentives for lenders to rewrite second liens, a common barrier for homeowners trying to refinance.

“President Obama recognizes the challenges facing our families in the nation’s housing markets, where local conditions vary considerably,” the White House said. “The legacy of price declines, together with the effects of high unemployment, means that many working- and middle-class families in these especially hard-hit areas are facing serious challenges, in many cases beyond what their families’ resources can handle.”

Hey, $100 million is no chump change... And it's quite possible that Nevada will get even more money under this program, considering our continuing unemployment and foreclosure problems.

Oh, and by the way, guess who's been lobbying The White House for all these months on beefing up assistance to distressed homeowners?

Democratic Rep. Dina Titus also has been pushing the Obama administration to do more to help homeowners in Nevada.

The congresswoman's Southern Nevada district has one of the nation's highest rates of foreclosures and she has repeatedly pressed the president, his Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, and Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan to improve existing rescue programs to better meet the demands for aid in Nevada.

"Southern Nevada, and the district I represent in particular, has been ground zero as Nevada has led the nation in foreclosures for far too long," Titus said.

“I have been working hard with Secretaries Donovan and Geithner to convey the depth of the housing problem in Southern Nevada, and I am pleased that President Obama is taking this important step to provide our community with additional resources that will help families remain in their home."

So thank you, Dina Titus, for delivering on housing help. And thank you, Mr. President, for listening and for making it happen.

So what else will be happening today? Just before noon, President Obama will be speaking at LVCVA. This should be interesting. Hopefully, Mayor Goodman won't be there with martini(s) on hand to launch into a drunken tirade.

I'm sure everyone else will be interested in hearing what Mr. President now has to say about visiting Las Vegas.

So I guess I'll head back to my sick bed for now... And we can all watch today as President Obama tries to respark that magic that turned Nevada on its head in 2008.

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