Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at A Forum on Housing with Sen. Dodd

Hartford, Connecticut
Monday, April 13th, 2009

Thank you so much for the introduction, Senator Dodd. It's great to be here in Connecticut today to talk about President Obama's Making Home Affordable Plan and the work that we're doing together to keep families in their homes and shore up neighborhoods here in Connecticut against the devastating effects of foreclosure.

It's always refreshing to get out of our offices in D.C. to see what impact our programs and our funds are actually having on families and neighborhoods. I'm honored to be here and look forward to having a fruitful discussion and answering your questions about the President's plan.

I'd like to take a moment to talk about Sen. Chris Dodd's leadership on housing. For over three decades, Sen. Dodd has been a leading voice in Washington and a tireless advocate for Connecticut families.

In the last two years, Sen. Dodd has raised the alarms about predatory lending, and has repeatedly fought for programs to prevent foreclosures. It is Sen. Dodd's language that enabled President Obama to create his loan modification program. It was Sen. Dodd who, working in a bipartisan way with Sen. Bond, increased foreclosure prevention counseling by $100 million, funds that are now being used in Hartford and around the state to help keep families in their homes.

It was Sen. Dodd who, with others, fought for the creation of a permanent Affordable Housing Trust Fund in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act last summer, and who continues to work to find alternative sources of financing for the fund. Sen. Dodd is a true partner to the Obama Administration and I thank you, Sen. Dodd, for being a national leader on housing.

Owning a home is about owning a piece of the American Dream. A home is where you raise your children and become part of a community. It's an anchor in the middle class, a source of personal and financial security, and in most cases it's a family's largest asset. That's why the Obama Administration has taken extraordinary actions to address the home mortgage crisis and help up to 9 million Americans through the President's Making Home Affordable Plan.

Just last week, the Council of Economic Advisors released a report documenting the positive impact of Making Home Affordable on mortgage rates. Since we announced our plan for homeowners in February, rates on 30-year mortgages have reached historic lows. Typical homeowners can now refinance and save up to $2,000 a year, amounting to a $2,000 tax cut. Refinancing has made a big difference for homeowners across the country, including the 8 homeowners who joined us at the White House last week for a productive discussion about the challenges facing homeowners. Many Americans have reduced their monthly mortgage payments by hundreds of dollars. That's money in their pockets to save for college or retirement or spend as they see fit. And the folks we met with last week are not alone. Refinancing applications are up 88 percent. Millions are taking advantage of rates that are lower as a result of our policies. Millions more are eligible.

With President Obama's plan, a homeowner NEVER has to pay to participate in the program. I encourage anyone trying to modify or refinance their loans to a monthly mortgage payment that is affordable to visit the Making Home Affordable website []. If you wish to obtain counseling assistance from a local HUD-approved counselor, HUD urges you to visit Making Home Affordable DOT Govz [], for more information. You can also call the Homeowner's HOPE Hotline at (888) 995-HOPE for free foreclosure counseling assistance.

While Making Home Affordable will help arrest the skyrocketing number of foreclosures here in Connecticut and across the country, I can't stress enough that foreclosure counseling and engagement at the grassroots level from activists and organizations will play a critical role in reversing the housing crisis and helping families get back on stable ground. I ask that everyone here today will be our partners in this effort.

Lastly, I want to say that just as all American families deserve a stable home, they deserve a stable neighborhood where they can thrive. HUD investments through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Community Development Block Grant Program will be directly targeted at this effort. In fact, Connecticut received $25 million under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to target emergency assistance to distressed neighborhoods by acquiring and redeveloping foreclosed properties that might otherwise become centers of abandonment and blight- part of a total $3.92 billion fund provided by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

In addition, President Obama's Recovery Act invests another $2 billion of competitive NSP funding to supplement state and local anti-blight efforts. With these Recovery Act funds, more neighborhoods across the country will have the tools they need to strengthen communities and maintain stability in a time of turbulence.

So there are signs of progress in the housing crisis, though difficult work remains. I look forward to working closely with all of you, with my partners in Congress, and with the Obama Administration to build on what we've achieved to help the millions of families across the country who are working hard to afford a home and realize the American Dream. Once again, it's an honor to be in Connecticut today and I look forward to taking your questions.

Thank you.


Content Archived: February 23, 2017