Joint Meeting of the Hope Now Alliance
and Housing Credit Counselors
PREPARED REMARKS FOR
ROY A. BERNARDI, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2007
Thank you, Brian (Montgomery). Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the President and Secretary Jackson, I want to thank all of you for coming. Welcome to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. I am so glad to see you here.
We have to find the ways and means to help Americans in trouble. I believe you understand. For example, in the past few weeks, we have witnessed unprecedented steps by mortgage lenders. Many major lenders, trade organizations, and counselors joined in an alliance to help Americans avoid foreclosure. The HOPE NOW alliance is a bold venture with a rapid response. More than 300,000 Americans on the brink of foreclosure have been contacted. A national hotline is now up and working. Standardized protocols are being implemented.
Now, with yesterday's announcement of an interest rate freeze on some mortgages, lenders have taken yet another valuable, needed step to assist American homeowners.
I thank the members of the HOPE NOW alliance for their powerful cooperation and their willingness to explore new solutions.
These voluntary private sector actions come at a time when my department has also made unprecedented efforts. We have pushed FHA's statutory authority to the limit in an effort to help those threatened by foreclosure. And we have worked to get FHA Modernization through the Congress. The President has also announced a new effort, FHASecure, which will help hundreds of thousands of homeowners.
And, Brian, I want to thank you for your strong, inspired leadership at the Federal Housing Administration.
HOPE NOW is a good start. FHASecure, coupled with FHA Modernization, will provide a strong foundation for future market stabilization, saving existing homes and laying the groundwork for expansion of homeownership in the years to come.
But none of this will work well without available, informed, and hard working housing counselors. Even before the housing crisis, the nation was turning more and more to housing counseling as a necessary step in the homeownership process. Now, in this crisis, with events moving quickly and new efforts underway, we need to increase the number of housing counselors participating in the effort.
That is why this meeting is so important. We need the full involvement of Housing Counseling Intermediaries. I am hopeful that you will help mold and shape our ongoing efforts. I also want you to fully participate in the strategy sessions and planning necessary for success.
As counseling agencies you are on the front lines. The HOPE NOW alliance needs your expertise, capability, and insight. The American people need your wisdom and dedication. If we are to be successful in addressing the housing crisis, we need the fully engagement and participation of housing counselors.
I know that the crisis we face is complex and insidious, national and global, involving countless decisions. But we cannot let the magnitude and scope of the problem turn us from our task. It will take persistence to force a long-lasting alliance. It will take a powerful commitment to form a broader alliance. And it will take nothing short of unshakable resolve to forge our way ahead, tackling the many barriers and difficulties sin our way.
We have to face this crisis knowing that there are no easy answers and no simple silver bullet solutions. That is why we need everyone working together, sharing a common vision, and steadfast in their response to each challenge.