Many states are now working on their own relief measures to help borrowers hurt by the continuing crisis in the subprime mortgage market.
Some are looking at programs that help provide education and financial incentives for borrowers, while others are considering greater scrutiny of lending agencies and vendors.
According to Reuters, loan agents in Minnesota and Ohio have a duty to match borrowers with low cost mortgages under recently-passed laws. Oregon and Maine could soon have similar measures. Meanwhile, Ohio approved a new bond issuance to save homeowners facing foreclosure while California and Minnesota are also considering some direct aid, the news agency reported.
Overall, more than 20 states are legislation in the works or have passed bills that help address the needs of subprime borrowers. New laws and programs are coming at the state level first, as federal officials continue to explore ways to help fix the subprime system.
"The states are the laboratory," Paul Richman, a government affairs executive with the Mortgage Bankers Association, told Reuters. "Washington lawmakers have a great respect for them and look there for ideas for a national solution."
This spring, legislation aimed at limiting the reach of subprime lenders was introduced into Congress.
The Predatory Lending Practice Reduction Act of 2007 calls for federal certification of mortgage brokers and agents and harsher penalties for violations. Foreclosure or failed mortgages will strike more than 2 million American homeowners in the subprime market by the year's end, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit advocacy group. The cost in lost equity will near $164 billion.
While the push for federal legislation has become a crawl, more and more states and mortgage stakeholders are touting the benefits the Federal Housing Administration may offer borrowers struggling with the subprime crisis.
As the subprime crisis rolls on, it's becoming clearer every day that the Federal Housing Administration can play a pivotal role in providing people with relief.
In fact, at least one national group expects the FHA to become a savior for people struggling with the continuing calamity.
The National Association of Mortgage Processors, or NAMP, recently predicted that the FHA and its loans will take over for subprime mortgages.
"As the government's largest mortgage program, the Federal Housing Administration loan has been basically a low-down payment source for first-time home buyers with issues with their credit, but who could fully document their income and assets," the NAMP said in a statement.
In addition, a proposed overhaul of the FHA could make government-backed loans every more tenable for homeowners.