Struggling Homeowners Await Housing Decision

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate debate continues about the future of a tax credit program for first time buyers after The White House unveiled a new housing program on Monday.
A recent report said nearly 1 million homes nationwide were in foreclosure over the summer.

That is homeowner Leslee Ramos' biggest fear.

"Right now, I'm so far behind that I'm just afraid that the bank is going to foreclose on my property," she said.

Leslee bought a three-bedroom townhome three years ago for $255,000. Now it is only worth $121,000 and Leslee has lost her job.

Early this week, the White House announced a plan to boost the housing market for low to moderate income first-time homebuyers.

State and local housing agencies would be able to issue new mortgages with credit from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, backed by the Federal government.

"This plan will really help the states provide affordable housing to first-time homebuyers," said Susan Dewey, president of the National Council of Stae Housing Agencies. "Our role is to not only make sure that people are getting into homes, but make sure that they stay in the homes."

The U.S. housing market has been struggling to recover -- even with the $8,000 tax credit for first time buyers, which is set to expire at the end of November.

A Senate panel is considering extending the credit, and many real estate agents and homebuilders say that would help the market.

Some in Congress even hope to expand the program. But there has been no decision yet from the Obama administration.

"The administration has known that the housing credit was going to expire November 30 of this year for how long? Since the beginning, since we passed the law," said Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky. "Why haven't you made a decision on that prior to this time?"

Shaun Donovan of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said he wants to make sure of what is at stake.

"As I explained earlier, we believe it's critically important as I believe that we've heard from this committee, that we understand as fully as possible the costs of that extension," he said.

Some are skeptical saying people who have used the tax credit would have bought homes anyway, even without it.

The Obama administration says it will have a recommendation in the coming weeks.

Struggling homeowners just hope one of these programs will be the right fit.

"In the past I've tried thousands of things that they've said," Leslie Ramos added. "(Like) new programs that they're going to help the homebuyers and nothing has worked out."

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