HEARTH Act Moves Forward – With Defects Intact

May 8, 2009

On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. Sounds like good news, doesn’t it?

Up to a point, it is. The legislation would make various changes in existing law–maybe not the best, but still pretty good–that would help prevent foreclosures, enhance mortgage credit availability and strengthen protections against mortgage fraud.

But the Senate folded the HEARTH Act into the legislation. As I and many others have said before, the HEARTH Act has serious defects.

  • The definition of “homeless” in the Act would perpetuate the exclusion of large groups of homeless individuals and families.
  • The Act would severely restrict the use of federal funds to help individuals and families newly recognized as homeless.
  • It would allow communities to continue ignoring most of these newly-recognized homeless people–and all those still not officially recognized–in their annual homeless counts.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has raised additional concerns about community decision-making,  flexibility and privacy.

The version of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act that passed in the House doesn’t include the HEARTH Act. So whether it’s in or out of the final bill will be subject to House-Senate negotiations.

Stay tuned …