Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. – With many Pennsylvania communities still reeling from the damage done by the housing meltdown comes legislation that could spell major trouble for current and future homeowners.
Craig Robbins, executive director of the citizens advocacy group ACTION United, says the Consumer Mortgage Choice Act would undermine a law set to take effect next month that ends hidden fees and points in mortgages, and limits fees to 3 percent.
"We really think that Congressman (Michael) Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) needs to make a decision here,” Robbins says. “Is he standing with the big banks, or is he going to stand with people of Pennsylvania and his district to ensure that we have fair loans and fair lending practices?"
During the housing meltdown, critics say tricks and traps for buyers generated more profits for lenders and their associates, which encouraged those involved in the loan process to steer borrowers into risky loans, no matter the borrower's ability to pay or even qualify for the loan amount.
Predatory lending connected to foreclosures gutted neighborhoods in Pennsylvania.
Robbins says the state cannot afford another economic hit like that.
"You would think we would've learned our lesson,” he stresses. “We need to have reforms, and that's partly what's been done here. Any effort to roll that back is just terrible."