Piece by Piece Update
June 23, 2011
Many thanks to those of you who have submitted your public commitments (deadline was June 15). We are now in the process of compiling the compendium report. We are very hopeful that it will be a useful tool in continuing to build linkages among partners, encourage collaboration, and share best practices. We will provide updates as we get closer to late summer publication date.
Thanks also to those of you who answered the call to serve as volunteers at the HOPE NOW/Making Home Affordable Outreach Event at the Georgia International Convention Center on June 17 - 18. Event organizers reported that nearly 2,500 struggling homeowners showed up on Friday and Saturday to meet with lenders and housing counselors.
See news coverage of the event here: Fox 5 Atlanta AJC
The update below outlines an important action opportunity to comment on proposed federal rules that could make it more difficult for low- and moderate-income families to purchase a home.
We also share an announcement from Wells Fargo about a new Atlanta initiative. Thanks for your continued engagement in the Piece by Piece effort
ACTION OPPORTUNITY: Comment Period Extended on Proposed Federal Rules that Could Impact Availability of Mortgage Credit
Six federal agencies have approved and will submit a Federal Register notice that extends the comment period on the proposed rules to implement the credit risk retention requirements of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The comment period was extended to August 1, 2011, to allow interested persons more time to analyze the issues and prepare their comments. Originally the comment period was set to expire on June 10. The rule would require that sponsors of asset-backed securities retain at least five percent of the credit risk of the assets. The proposal also defines qualified residential mortgages (QRMs) which are loans that are exempt from the risk retention requirement. The underwriting standards for QRMs laid out in the proposal include 20% down payment requirements, lower debt-to-income ratios, and borrower credit history restrictions.
The National Housing Conference (NHC), a lead partner in the Piece by Piece Initiative, joined 21 other national organizations including the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Realtors, the Center for Responsible Lending, and the National Urban League to explain how the draft QRM definition could make it harder for low- and moderate-income families to afford homes due to the requirements on borrowers to make a 20% down payment and a low debt-to-income ratio. Read their collective white-paper statement here.
According to information posted by NHC, mortgage loans that don't meet the 20% down payment and low debt-to-income ratio requirements would be subject to risk retention, potentially raising their cost. Of additional concern, the QRM rule is coming out ahead of broader mortgage finance reform and other rules implementing Dodd-Frank, and so may unintentionally become a focal point for future policy. That could result in low- and moderate-income homebuyers, particularly in communities of color, facing much higher costs and less access to affordable mortgages. Other portions of the QRM rule, such as the restrictions on unsustainable mortgage products like no-documentation loans and exploding ARMs, can be an effective part of the mortgage finance system.
Senator Johnny Isakson, who addressed the QRM debate in his comments at the Clayton County Regional Housing Summit in May, recently spoke on the Senate floor about his position on this issue.
"If a 20 percent down payment requirement for highly qualified homebuyers is put in place, it would be a second hit to what is already a very fragile U.S. housing market," said Isakson. "It is critically important that when you pass regulation that the unintended consequence does not cause a bigger problem than the one you are trying to correct. The unintended consequence of this proposed rule would create lower demand in the housing market, perpetuate declining housing prices and a cause a continued protraction of the worst housing recession in the history of the United States of America."
For more background on the issue, see MSNBC's coverage on the QRM debate.
If you are interested in commenting on the QRM proposed rule, please visit the National Community Reinvestment Coalition's website for sample comment language and email addresses for the six federal agencies accepting comments on the QRM rule.
Announcement from Wells Fargo about New Atlanta Initiative
Wells Fargo has selected Atlanta for a broad-based six-week advertising effort to show our commitment to preserving homeownership and to continue the progress that we are seeing on the foreclosure and delinquency issue. This campaign serves as a follow-up to the work we have done through our Home Ownership Preservation workshops across the metro area, our work with non-profit groups such as CredAbility and Home Free USA, and the Home Preservation Stores we are operating in East Point and Suwanee in a special attempt to work with hard-to-reach homeowners facing payment challenges.
The initiative includes television, print, radio and online advertising in 44 media outlets in Atlanta - a major investment. It is designed to emphasize Wells Fargo's commitment to help struggling homeowners find solutions that will allow them to stay in their homes - and, using special toll-free numbers, to encourage more to get in touch with us.
A few key elements of the integrated campaign now under way in Atlanta are:
· Television advertising featuring actual Wells Fargo customers describing their experiences at Home Preservation Workshops in several communities across the nation.
· Different versions of advertising depending on the audience of the media outlet. We have special advertising for African-American, Hispanic and general market media.
· Public relations outreach in our community so the media can understand the purpose of the campaign and the progress we are already seeing.
Concerning the latter point, we are very pleased to let you know of the improvement we are already seeing. Some key facts illustrating this are the following:
· We believe we have turned the corner on foreclosures. Our foreclosure sales peaked in Atlanta in April of 2010 - and in April of 2011 our owner-occupied foreclosures had dropped by more than 50 percent.
· More customers are current. Of our 230,000 mortgage customers in the Atlanta area, 93 percent are up-to-date. This compares to 90 percent in late 2009. While three percentage points may not sound like much, it means that 7,000 more homeowners are current.
· Since the beginning of 2009, we have successfully helped more than 27,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure. Of those, four out of five have completed a loan modification.
For additional questions, here are our key contacts:
Jay Lawrence, Corporate Communications Manager
Hugh Rowden, Regional Servicing Community & Home Preservation Director, 404-877-6921, firstname.lastname@example.org
Piece by Piece Coordinator