Lawmakers Seek FHFA Urgency on Obama Foreclosure Plan

(Corrects names and number of signers starting in first paragraph of story published Sept. 15.)

The regulator overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is dragging its feet on a plan to help homeowners refinance into cheaper mortgages, members of the House of Representatives said in a letter.

The two lawmakers, both Democrats, sent the letter today to Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, requesting that he meet with them after what they called a “disappointing” meeting with lower-level FHFA staff.

“We expressed our profound frustration with the apparent lack of urgency shown by your agency and by agencies within the Administration in addressing the foreclosure crisis,” Representatives Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Dennis Cardoza of California wrote in the letter. Cummings is the leading Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

In a speech to Congress on the economy last week, President Obama Barack said he wanted to give more homeowners a way to take advantage of record-low interest rates to spur the housing market and boost consumer spending.

The Obama administration and the FHFA have been in discussions about how to do that by fixing problems in an existing two-year-old program for borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth.

DeMarco stopped short of promising to deliver on the president’s proposal in a statement last week. He said the FHFA must determine whether the program can be expanded without more losses for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have been under U.S. conservatorship since 2008.

“We made very clear that we want action now, and that the President’s address was a call to action -- to Members of Congress, the Administration, the banking community, and independent agencies like yours,” the lawmakers said in their letter. “It quickly became obvious, however, that a meeting directly with you is necessary.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Clea Benson in Washington at Cbenson20@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net.

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