WASHINGTON — Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd said late Tuesday that he is confident a refinancing program meant to reduce foreclosures would be in operation by Oct. 1 as intended under the housing bill the Senate passed last weekend.
After American Banker reported last week that a Housing and Urban Development Department spokesman said proposed regulations to carry out the refinancing program might not be ready until next year, the Connecticut Democrat convened an emergency meeting with regulators Tuesday to secure promises to the contrary.
"It was a very reassuring meeting," Sen. Dodd told reporters after meeting with the heads of the Federal Reserve Board, Treasury Department, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and HUD, who are tasked with fleshing out the program’s details.
Sen. Dodd said HUD Secretary Steve Preston vowed regulators would "blow through the process" and bypass the usual "regulatory gauntlet" in favor of fast action.
"They are all very confident they can do that by Oct. 1," said Sen. Dodd.
He said senior agency staff employees would hold their first meeting Wednesday to begin hammering out the details.
The agencies need to devise standards fleshing out criteria that would let struggling borrowers refinance into loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration after lenders agree to a writedown.
Sen. Dodd said Mr. Preston is asking President Bush to expedite a request to let HUD hire 300 people immediately to facilitate execution of the refinancing program.