Where Do the Candidates Stand on The Foreclosure Crisis?

For the last two weeks, one politico after another has railed about our damaged economy and declared their intention to solve the problem. Without question, unemployment remains a serious issue that must be dealt with head on. However, one issue that has been conspicuously missing from all this talk about our economy is the ongoing Home Opportunity crisis.

There have been two million foreclosure filings this year alone and over 15 million homeowners are underwater, meaning that their home is worth less than they owe on their mortgage. That’s millions of senior citizens losing their economic security, children and families uprooted, neighborhoods blighted with vacant properties, and a continued drag on our economy. Given the level of attention it’s received at the conventions, though, you wouldn’t know that.

Enter California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a champion of homeowners in the Golden State who has worked to end wrongful foreclosures. Harris knows that we will not see full economic recovery without addressing the state of our housing market, and she drove that point home in her remarks before the Democratic National Convention. To date, she’s been one of the only public officials to address this crisis.

Harris understands that we didn’t get here by accident.  Our housing turmoil is rooted in wrongdoing by lenders and Wall Street and inadequate rules and enforcement.  That’s why she led the fight against the big banks and lobbyists intent on maintaining the status quo and continuing to line their pocketbooks.  As she said at the convention:

“I’ve seen all that happens when you roll back those rules.  What happens are rows of foreclosure signs…mountains of family debt…a middle class that’s hurting.  That’s what we’ve seen in towns across California and across this country.”

Harris is a partisan Democrat, of course, and her remarks were aimed at GOP candidate Mitt Romney.  But, the truth is that neither party has said much about how they propose to get us out of this foreclosure crisis and back on track toward prosperity.  If they’re looking for ideas, both candidates just need to look at what Harris has done in her post as Attorney General.

The housing crisis was preventable, but politicians and regulators were asleep at the wheel.  We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.  We have it in our power as a nation to put housing, homeownership, and our economy back on track.  We have practical solutions that will promote successful homeownership, help Americans repair their finances and communities, and build a more fair and prosperous economy.

Indeed, thousands have already come together to urge the candidates to present their path forward. Why are they shying away from putting forth a concrete plan to stop wrongful foreclosures and ensure that we have affordable homes to rent and real access to homeownership? The Home for Good Campaign has been asking these very questions but has yet to get an answer. There are no easy answers, but ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.

Janis Bowdler is president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Bowdler joined JPMorgan Chase in 2013, before which she served as director of economic policy at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR, now UnidosUS). Bowdler also served as a project manager at Famicos Foundation, a community development corporation working in the Hough and Glenville neighborhoods of Cleveland, Ohio.


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