Sen. Voinovich Pushes Foreclosure Assistance Legislation

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Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) and Columbus Mayor Coleman tour a rehabilitated part of the Franklinton neighborhood.
Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) and Columbus Mayor Coleman tour a rehabilitated part of the Franklinton neighborhood.

The Franklinton section of Columbus has been hard-hit by foreclosures. On Monday Mayor Coleman and Sen. George Voinovich visited the area to discuss the crisis. Sen. Voinovich has introduced legislation in Congress to help homeowners who are struggling with their mortgages.

65 Park Avenue had been a house used for drugs and prostitution. Now it’s a luxurious 2-and-a-half bath, 3-bedroom home that was rehabilitated by the city. Mayor Coleman praised the work of Home Again, the program that acquired the house and turned it into a showplace. But he says the rapidly escalating number of foreclosures is overwhelming the city’s efforts.

“We started out with 3,100 vacant and abandoned houses in the city of Columbus,” Coleman said. “Now there are 4,100 vacant house in the city, a thousand more, largely due to the foreclosure crisis.”

Coleman used as an example the boarded-up house next door.

“That house next door is a foreclosed upon house,” Coleman said. “It pulls down the rest of the neighborhood and adds to the criminal element and the drug element in this city. So we want to eliminate these from our city but we need help.”

Sen. Voinovich has submitted two pieces of legislation to Congress which he says will help. One, the Mortgage Relief Act, would eliminate an IRS rule that requires homeowners to pay federal taxes on the amount of money that a mortgage lender forgives. The bill has passed the house and Voinovich says he’s on bended knee, hoping for its passage in the Senate. The other bill known as the Expanding American Homeownership Act would make it easier for struggling owners to receive assistance from FHA.

“If a house is being foreclosed and the individual has a job and they can work something out with their bank or Savings and Loan, FHA can guarantee that loan,” said Voinovich.

That bill is pending in the Senate as well.

As they were leaving, Coleman and Voinovich stopped to talk to Rebbecca Walton who was standing on her porch two doors down.

“I’m glad you’re doing all this because all the drug heads and the prostitutes are leaving the neighborhood now and it’s becoming a better neighborhood,” Walton said. “Nice to meet you. Keep up the good work,” she said.

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