Republicans to block Obama housing bill

The Obama administration's key housing market rescue programs landed on the chopping block on Thursday as a committee in the House of Representatives scheduled a vote next week to kill them.

The Republican leadership of the House Financial Services Committee said the panel will vote March 3 on a bill to kill the Home Affordable Modification Program, which it said has failed to help enough distressed homeowners to justify its cost.

The committee also will vote on bills to shut down a Federal Housing Administration refinancing program and a fund to stabilize neighbourhoods suffering from heavy foreclosures. Another would kill a program to provide 12-month emergency loans to homeowners.

"In an era of record-breaking deficits, it's time to pull the plug on these programs that are actually doing more harm than good for struggling homeowners," committee chairman Spencer Bachus said in a statement.

The Obama administration said it "remains committed to reaching eligible homeowners to give them every opportunity to avoid foreclosure and will continue working to make our programs as effective as possible."

If the bills clear the committee, they would have to be approved by the full House as well as by the Democratcontrolled Senate. HAMP, the Obama administration's premier program to aid borrowers struggling with costly mortgages, has provided permanent loan relief for only 521,630 homeowners in the nearly two years it has been operating.

So far, the program has spent only $840 million US of the $29 billion the U.S. Treasury earmarked for the program from its $700-billion financial bailout fund.

Source: The Province