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Obama and NV Lawmakers Take Aim at Toxic Home Loans

February 16, 2009

Las Vegas, NV – President Obama is putting the nation's housing crisis on the front burner this week. Lawyers fighting to keep Nevadans in their homes welcome his efforts. Obama will travel to Arizona, the number three state for foreclosures, to reveal new details of how he plans to put the brakes on the housing crisis.

Last week, top brass from banks that received bailout money offered temporary help to homeowners. Henderson, Nev., bankruptcy and real estate lawyer Kent Ivey says the President's good-will gesture is unlikely to have broad reach.

"I'd love to be able to say to my clients, 'Hey guys there's this six-week moratorium because the bank industry has agreed to it,' but it appears to be a promise by only these eight banks. I don't know how much that's going to help everybody in the foreclosure boat."

Obama is expected offer more details this week on his pledge to use up to $100 billion from the U.S. Treasury Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to reduce monthly payments for struggling homeowners.

Nearly half - 48 percent - of Nevadans currently owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth, according to Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley (D-District 8). She recently offered a bill (AB 149) supported by the banking industry that would require mediation before foreclosure. She says her measure could help at least 17,000 homeowners.

"The judiciary is willing to conduct those mediations, and we want homeowners to have the opportunity to meet face to face with lenders. This legislation is especially for those people who want to work something out with their lenders, but just cannot contact anyone."

Nevada lawmakers also are considering a measure, AB 152, that would license foreclosure consultants. Buckley says that bill is needed because some of the same people who got Nevadans into the housing crisis are masquerading as consultants and taking more money from struggling homeowners.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV