President Obama unveiled his $447 billion jobs creation bill yesterday in front of a joint session of Congress. Two elements of the broad-ranging speech relate directly to housing:
- Refinancing relief for homeowners. Summaries of the bill refer to the Administration working with FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac to remove barriers to refinancing in the existing HARP program. No specifics are yet available, and as presented it is possible this may not require legislative action.
- Rehabilitating homes and businesses. The bill contains a proposal for Project Rebuild, which would deploy $15 billion to renovate vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses. A summary of the bill refers to innovative solutions like land banks, suggesting that this proposal may build on the success of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Any help for housing is certainly welcome, given the significant challenges we face. It remains to be seen whether these proposals will lead to action.