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52 Reasons to Vote for Obama: #21, Keeping Our Homes

09/12/2012 11:38 am ET | Updated Nov 12, 2012

Whether you're PRObama, NObama, or still undecided, 52 Reasons to Vote for Obama gives you all the information you need to share with friends, debate with relatives and decide for yourself as we head toward one of the most important elections of our lifetime. I'll post a new reason in random order every Monday through Friday from now 'til the election.

Six weeks after taking office, President Obama introduced the Making Home Affordable program (MHA) to help homeowners prevent foreclosure, stabilize the housing market, and improve our economy. Under this program, many homeowners can lower their monthly mortgage payments. If they can no longer afford, or no longer desire, homeownership, there is a program that can help them avoid foreclosure and provide a responsible way out. Other options exist for homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth or are unemployed. Through these efforts, Obama has already helped over a million homeowners keep their homes and save billions of dollars, and with the extension of some of these programs through the end of 2013, millions more may be able to do the same -- as long as he remains in the White House.

Two months later, in May 2009, Obama signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act. The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act made it easier to use the Making Home Affordable program, established protections for renters living in foreclosed homes, and ensured that homeowners can easily find out who owns their mortgage. It also provided $2.2 billion to fight homelessness. The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act enables the federal government to crack down on the kind of fraud, manipulation and predatory lending that put thousands of working families, in spite of doing everything right, at risk of losing their homes.

2012-09-12-Homes.jpgIn February 2012, Obama unveiled a new mortgage refinancing proposal, calling it a "make or break" for the middle class. According to the president, the plan will give every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgages by refinancing at historically low rates. No more red tape. No more endless forms. And a small fee on the largest financial institutions will make sure it doesn't add a dime to the deficit.

President Obama also proposed a "Homeowner's Bill of Rights" that requires simple mortgages with no hidden fees, guidelines to prevent conflicts of interest damaging to homeowners, support for families who are current on their mortgage payments, and protection against inappropriate foreclosure. Obama also announced a pilot program to convert foreclosed properties into rental homes to improve neighborhoods and home prices.

The Results: As of April 2012, over one million homeowners have received a permanent modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program, the largest MHA program. These homeowners have reduced their monthly mortgage payments by one-third -- a median of approximately $535 -- saving an estimated total of $12.7 billion to date. Those homeowners with the principal reduction alternative feature have reduced the median amount of their principal by $68,267.

The application deadline for the program has been extended to December 31, 2013, and the eligibility criteria have been expanded, making it easier to qualify, especially if you are in the armed forces.

There are also signs that the housing market is finally coming back to life. As the New York Times reported in June 2012, home prices are rising, sales are increasing, and home builders are reporting increased activity. "Our sense is that the market is recovering, and we're extremely confident that it's not going to get worse," said Ronnie Morgan, a San Diego real estate agent. "It feels very much like we've hit a bottom and we're starting to come off of that bottom," said Stuart Miller, chief executive of Lennar, a major national home builder based in Miami.

This past June the National Association of Realtors showed the highest level of pending home sales in almost two years. Other signs that point to a stronger housing market, with more buyers, include: rising rents and low mortgage rates; an economy that has continued to improve while home prices have fallen; population growth without significant new construction; and housing stock for sale continuing to decline.

What's more, owners' equity in household real estate has held steady since President Obama took office, after falling more than 50 percent from its peak in 2006, according to the Federal Reserve.

Mitt Romney's Response: "Don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom." He favors allowing investors to make money while families get kicked out on the street.

Message to Mitt: Keep your house, 'cause you ain't movin' to the White House!

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