Opinion

President Obama delivers help

by U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen

The housing crisis is at the center of this recession and it affects every one of us. But help for homeowners is here — on March 4, President Obama’s housing plan went into action to help as many as 9 million American families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.

In the 2nd Congressional District, Snohomish County has been the hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, with 478 properties — 1 in every 576 homes — in foreclosure as of February, according to RealtyTrac.com.

President Obama’s plan offers assistance to homeowners who are making a good faith effort to keep current with their mortgage payments. Homeowners participating in the program can lower their mortgage payments, stay in their homes, and avoid foreclosure. To learn more about the President’s plan and find out if you are eligible for help, visit www.financialstability.gov/makinghomeaffordable.

Earlier this month, I voted to put the President’s housing plan into action and make it easier for families facing foreclosure to get help. The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act (H.R. 1106) restores fairness for middle-class families facing foreclosure on their only home by allowing judges to modify their mortgages, giving these homeowners the same rights under bankruptcy law as someone who owns two or more homes. The housing bill includes strict safeguards to ensure that bankruptcy judges can only modify mortgages if a family has exhausted all other options.

Meeting with President Obama

at the White House

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with President Obama at the White House, along with a number of my colleagues from Congress. We discussed the historic challenges our country faces and how we can work together to overcome them. We talked about the President’s plan to invest in our national priorities. President Obama’s plan:

n Invests in renewable energy to create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

n Makes long-term investments in our kids’ education.

n Reduces the cost of health care for families and small businesses.

We have a lot of work to do to reach these goals, but I am confident that we will meet them together.

Creating Jobs in Snohomish County

When I met with President Obama, we also discussed his plan for economic recovery. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which the President signed into law on Feb. 17, will create save or create 3.5 million jobs (including 8,500 here in Washington state’s 2nd Congressional District), set a foundation for economic recovery and long-term growth and help our neighbors hard hit by the recession.

Your economic recovery dollars are already going to work here in Snohomish County. To modernize local roads and bridges and improve public safety, President Obama’s recovery plan provides more than $17 million for transportation projects in the 2nd Congressional District. Governor Chris Gregoire and the Puget Sound Regional Council have announced projects that will receive federal funding under the recovery plan. Recovery projects include $3.5 million to complete an alternate route for truck traffic to bypass downtown Granite Falls, improving safety for drivers and pedestrians, and $2.5 million to install traffic cameras, electronic message signs, and traffic sensors along I-5 in Marysville.

The economic recovery plan delivers help for cash-strapped school districts, including more than $44 million for the 2nd Congressional District. The Marysville School District will also receive funding from the $100 million for Impact Aid, which provides federal help for communities like Marysville that serve a large number of military families.

The President’s recovery plan will help Snohomish county service providers serve our neighbors in need. Among other resources, the recovery plan will soon deliver more than $27,000 to help Snohomish County food banks feed local families – that’s just a down payment on the $2 million in economic recovery dollars going to food banks across Washington state.

The President’s recovery plan is an important step to getting our economy back on track. Moving forward, we have to work together — the federal government, states, cities, counties and citizens — to make sure that recovery dollars are spent responsibly and efficiently. We must also put in place appropriate regulations for our financial markets so we never face an economic crisis like this one again.

U.S. Representative Rick Larsen represents Washington’s 2nd congressional district in the U.S. Congress. He is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Hunger Caucus.

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