Earlier this month, the Secretary and I joined our mortgage industry partners to announce the HOPE NOW alliance, to help struggling homeowners keep their homes.
Today, we go from hope to action. HOPE NOW's new mail campaign will reach out and offer a blueprint so these families can help themselves.
The most important weapon in this fight is information. Homeowners must know their options-and they must know that they have options.
HOPE NOW's campaign will give them access to real humans who can help them find real alternatives.
And it's free, unlike fee-for-foreclosure-help scams offered by predatory lenders.
Action is critical. According to some estimates, more than $1 trillion in adjustable-rate mortgages may reset in the next five years.
If we do nothing, we face a rising tide of foreclosures. And foreclosure helps no one.
So we have encouraged the mortgage industry to be aggressive. I am pleased with their response.
We have asked them to identify homeowners teetering on the edge but who want to do what it takes to keep their homes. They just need to be shown the way.
The companies behind HOPE NOW understand that this is neither a bailout nor a handout.
Let me add that HUD has helped lead the fight. Our housing counselors are helping homebuyers and owners understand the fine print and avoid exotic loan scams. We've increased the budget for HUD-approved counselors by 200 percent since 2001.
Second, our new FHASecure plan is, for the first time, allowing responsible homeowners who defaulted when their interest rates reset to safely refinance through the FHA.
These are people who may have been steered into adjustable rate mortgages. They had been making on-time payments for months or years but ran into trouble when their monthly payments doubled or tripled. FHA has other insurance products available to families looking to refinance or for first-time homebuyers.
Finally, it's been exactly two months since President Bush urged Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to modernize the FHA, and 18 months since the Administration first proposed a plan. The House has acted, but the Senate has not.
I strongly urge the Senate to pass legislation that will make the FHA a more viable mortgage insurance alternative for first-time homebuyers, minorities, and low-income families.
The bottom line is this: we can help families keep their homes. It'll take teamwork, flexibility, and communication.
The HOPE NOW alliance and its new mail campaign provides all three. It is a common-sense approach to a national problem, and I'm proud to support it.