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US Rep. Maxine Waters To Push HUD, Banks On Housing January 9, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–A top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee had strong words Tuesday for the banking industry and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as she reiterated the strong position her party intends to place on housing issues this year.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., incoming chairwoman of the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee, said affordability and fairness issues are two of her major concerns. She said federal regulators and the lending industry should be prepared to discuss these issues and possible solutions during hearings.

“For those of you who are worried about people like Maxine Waters in the financial services industry, stay worried,” she said during a luncheon speech to the Women in Housing and Finance group. “Come up with some answers. Come up with some ideas. Come up with some things that we can do that would help us work together to get the job done.”

Waters said she planned to hold her first hearing later this month in New Orleans to look at the housing situation there and try and resolve tensions between HUD and housing advocates over the lack of affordable housing in the area because so much public housing was destroyed by the hurricanes of 2005.

“I’m already working with HUD to try and help negotiate between HUD and housing advocates to bring people back from Dallas and Houston and Baton Rouge and all of these places they have gone because they have no housing and no place to live,” she said. “I am simply saying to HUD, work it out before my first hearing.”

Separately, Waters said she planned to speak with lenders and bank regulators over the touchy issue of how to crack down on expensive mortgage products while ensuring that credit is available to low-income borrowers.

“We really do have to understand how on the one hand we make sure that the mortgage opportunities are available to many people who have not had access to them, but at the same time we don’t want to be a part of pushing these products that are absolutely impossible to maintain by people who simply didn’t know what they were getting into.”

Waters also said she wanted to analyze costs and fees associated with the mortgage closing process.

By Damian Paletta, Dow Jones Newswires

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