Text: H.R.6304 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (09/29/2010)


111th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 6304

To establish in the Department of the Treasury the Office of the Homeowner Advocate to assist homeowners, housing counselors, and housing lawyers in resolving problems with the Home Affordable Modification Program.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 29, 2010

Mr. Baca (for himself, Mr. Gutierrez, Mr. Miller of North Carolina, Mr. Meeks of New York, and Mr. Sires) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services


A BILL

To establish in the Department of the Treasury the Office of the Homeowner Advocate to assist homeowners, housing counselors, and housing lawyers in resolving problems with the Home Affordable Modification Program.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Office of the Homeowner Advocate Act of 2010”.

SEC. 2. Office of the homeowner advocate.

(a) Establishment.—There is established in the Department of the Treasury an office to be known as the “Office of the Homeowner Advocate” (in this Act referred to as the “Office”).

(b) Director.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Director of the Office of the Homeowner Advocate (in this Act referred to as the “Director”) shall be appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, relating to appointments in the competitive service or the Senior Executive Service.

(2) SUPERVISOR; COMPENSATION.—The Director shall report directly to the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability, and shall be entitled to compensation at the same rate as the highest rate of basic pay established for the Senior Executive Service under section 5382 of title 5, United States Code.

(3) QUALIFICATIONS.—An individual appointed under paragraph (1) shall have—

(A) experience as an advocate for homeowners; and

(B) experience dealing with mortgage servicers.

(4) RESTRICTION ON EMPLOYMENT.—An individual may be appointed as Director only if such individual was not an officer or employee of a mortgage servicer or the Department of the Treasury during the 4-year period ending on the date of such appointment.

(5) HIRING AUTHORITY.—The Director shall have the authority to hire staff, obtain support by contract, and manage the budget of the Office of the Homeowner Advocate.

SEC. 3. Functions of the office.

(a) In general.—It shall be the function of the Office—

(1) to assist homeowners, housing counselors, and housing lawyers in resolving problems with the Home Affordable Modification Program of the Making Home Affordable initiative of the Secretary of the Treasury, authorized under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (in this title referred to as the “Home Affordable Modification Program”);

(2) to identify areas, both individual and systematic, in which homeowners, housing counselors, and housing lawyers have problems in dealings with the Home Affordable Modification Program;

(3) to the extent possible, to propose changes in the administrative practices of the Home Affordable Modification Program to mitigate problems identified under paragraph (2);

(4) to identify potential legislative changes which may be appropriate to mitigate such problems; and

(5) to implement other programs and initiatives that the Director considers important in assisting homeowners, housing counselors, and housing lawyers to resolve problems with the Home Affordable Modification Program, which may include—

(A) running a triage hotline for homeowners at risk of foreclosure;

(B) providing homeowners with access to housing counseling programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development at no cost to the homeowner;

(C) developing Internet tools related to the Home Affordable Modification Program; and

(D) developing training and educational materials.

(b) Authority.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Staff designated by the Director shall have the authority to implement mortgage servicer remedies, on a case-by-case basis, subject to the approval of the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability.

(2) LIMITATIONS ON FORECLOSURES.—A mortgage servicer participating in the Home Affordable Modification Program may not initiate or continue a foreclosure proceeding until the earlier of the date on which the Office of the Homeowner Advocate case involving a homeowner who applied for a loan modification under such Program is closed, or 60 days since the opening of the Office of the Homeowner Advocate case involving such homeowner has passed, except that nothing in this section may be construed to relieve any mortgage servicers from any otherwise applicable rules, directives, or similar guidance under the Program relating to the continuation or completion of foreclosure proceedings.

(3) RESOLUTION OF HOMEOWNER CONCERNS.—The Director shall, to the extent possible, resolve all homeowner concerns not later than 30 days after the opening of a case with such homeowner.

(c) Commencement of operations.—The Director shall commence its operations, as required by this Act, not later than 3 months after the date of enactment of this Act.

(d) Sunset.—Effective on the date of the conclusion of the Home Affordable Modification Program, the Office of the Homeowner Advocate and the position of the Director of the Office of the Homeowner Advocate are hereby abolished.

SEC. 4. Relationship with existing entities.

(a) Transfer.—The Director shall coordinate and centralize all complaint escalations relating to the Home Affordable Modification Program.

(b) Hotline.—The HOPE hotline (or any successor triage hotline) shall reroute all complaints relating to the Home Affordable Modification Program to the Office.

(c) Coordination.—The Director shall coordinate with the compliance office of the Office of Financial Stability of the Department of the Treasury and the Homeownership Preservation Office of the Department of the Treasury.

SEC. 5. Reports to congress.

(a) Testimony.—The Director shall appear and testify before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives not less than 4 times a year or at any time at the request of the Chairs of either committee.

(b) Reports.—The Director shall provide annually to Congress a detailed report on the Home Affordable Modification Program. Such report shall contain a full and substantive analysis of the Program, in addition to statistical information, including, at a minimum—

(1) data and analysis of the types and volume of complaints received from homeowners, housing counselors, and housing lawyers, disaggregated by category of mortgage servicer, except that mortgage servicers may not be identified by name in the report;

(2) a summary of not fewer than 20 of the most serious problems encountered by participants of the Home Affordable Modification Program, including a description of the nature of such problems;

(3) to the extent known, identification of the 10 most litigated issues for participants of the Home Affordable Modification Program, including recommendations for mitigating such disputes;

(4) data and analysis on the resolutions of the complaints received from homeowners, housing counselors, and housing lawyers;

(5) identification of any programs or initiatives that the Director has taken to improve the Home Affordable Modification Program;

(6) recommendations for such administrative and legislative action as may be appropriate to resolve problems encountered by participants of the Home Affordable Modification Program; and

(7) such other information as the Director considers advisable.

SEC. 6. Funding.

Amounts made available for the costs of administration of the Home Affordable Modification Program that are not otherwise obligated to such Program shall be available to carry out the functions of the Office. Funding shall be maintained at levels adequate to reasonably carry out such functions.