You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Mass. congressmen urge help for troubled homeowners

Three Massachusetts congressmen today are urging federal housing officials to do more to help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure -- adding pressure on mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reverse a prohibition against reducing the size of struggling borrowers’ mortgage loans.

In a letter released today, US Representatives Barney Frank of Newton; Michael Capuano of Somerville; and Stephen Lynch of South Boston, all Democrats, urged the head of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency to help homeowners and the economy. The agency was created in 2008 to regulate the mortgage giants that were seized by the government during the country’s financial crisis.

Continue reading below

The congressmen were endorsing a request filed last week by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. Coakley wrote to Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, asking him to write-down mortgage principal to avoid “unnecessary foreclosures.”

Federal officials said they had received both letters and would “respond soon.”

DeMarco has said that reducing mortgage debt for homeowners would be a burden to taxpayers, who already have paid billions of dollars to support the mortgage companies. Instead, he said, the agency believes that a process called “forbearance - through which the lenders set aside a portion of the mortgage interest-free -- also serves to reduce mortgage payments without financial losses to taxpayers.

The Massachusetts congressmen, all members of the Housing Financial Services Committee, said taxpayers already are suffering a financial burden because of the staggering economy. They said Demarco has authority under law to heed Coakley’s request.

“Taxpayers are not only not protected, but they are exposed to further problems when efforts that could enhance the pace of economic recovery are opposed as they have been by your agency,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe that the Attorney General of our state has made a very strong case, and we urge you as strongly as we can to comply with her requests.”

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com.
Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.