WASHINGTON — Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan issued the following statement today following the signing of a major housing bill by President Bush:
The housing bill that President Bush signed today includes a number of important measures that will help stabilize the nation’s housing markets and provide relief for the many homeowners who are struggling to keep their homes. The President and Congress deserve enormous credit for the work that went into this legislation.
One measure of particular importance to national banks is the restoration of our Part 24 authority to make investments designed primarily to promote the public welfare through the provision of housing, services, or jobs. In 2006, Congress had restricted this authority to investments primarily benefiting low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. Under the legislation signed today, banks will be able to make investments in other communities as well, including distressed middle-income communities.
This provision provides support for the goals of the housing bill, without the expenditure of any taxpayer funds, by helping to revitalize and stabilize communities affected by rising foreclosures. The OCC will move immediately to make appropriate amendments to our regulations to implement this important new Part 24 authority. I believe this is something we can accomplish in a matter of weeks.
We are also working to develop a revision to the Community Reinvestment Act regulations to provide CRA consideration for banks and thrifts that provide assistance to revitalize and stabilize middle-income areas affected by foreclosures. The language we have proposed would support the goals of the housing bill by providing CRA credit for loan modifications, foreclosure prevention counseling, and other activities that would help revitalize and stabilize areas impacted by foreclosures.
In addition, the banking agencies are nearly ready to issue a new set of CRA questions and answers that cover a number of issues, including how banks can receive CRA credit for foreclosure prevention programs for low- and moderate-income homeowners, consistent with the interagency Statement on Working with Mortgage Borrowers.
At a time when so many Americans are struggling to keep up with ballooning mortgage payments, we need to use every tool at our disposal to help them.