Senate approval seen on housing bill

House made of $50 bills.

TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: We'll do housing first, since it's still happening. The news comes from the Senate side of the Capitol, where both parties are tripping over themselves trying to show how much they agree with each other for a change. Late yesterday afternoon we learned there was a tentative deal to help homeowners struggling with mortgages they can't afford anymore. Senate leaders said they'd have a deal by noon today. That's taken a lot longer than anyone expected, even though negotiations went on through the night last night.

From Washington, Jeremy Hobson reports now it's time to debate and amend.


JEREMY HOBSON: This is the view from the Republican side, courtesy of Senator Norm Coleman.

NORM COLEMAN: We've done something today that the American people should be very proud of.

And this is the view from the Democratic side. Here's Senator Bill Nelson.

BILL NELSON: This bill that's before us provides some common sense relief.

The compromise package will include money for counseling for people at risk of losing their homes, an overhaul of the Federal Housing Administration and incentives for communities and citizens alike to buy foreclosed properties to prevent a free-fall in the value of the homes around them. Andrew Jakabovics of the Center for American Progress says reducing the inventory of vacant housing is key.

ANDREW JAKABOVICS: We think it's sort of far easier to protect the equity that most Americans have built up in their homes than trying to figure out how to gain it back over the long term.

Democrats will likely have to give up on one proposal they've been pushing. It would allow bankruptcy judges to alter the terms of existing mortgages. Lenders and the White House said that would drive up the cost of loans for everyone. So overall, is the compromise a big enough fix? Jim Carr of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition says no.

JIM CARR: If we don't get much more substantial proposals on the table, and this continues to drift into September, October, then it certainly will be too late for millions of more households.

He says millions more because of this daunting figure: 2 million. That's the number of Americans expected to lose their homes by the end of next year.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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