Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee and a member of the Senate Banking Committee, sent letters to lenders and regulators Wednesday encouraging them to do more to help struggling homeowners.
The roughly 40 lenders he wrote included Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Countrywide Financial Corp., and Washington Mutual Inc. Sen. Schumer asked them to detail steps they have made to modify subprime loans to help borrowers.
The New York Democrat is also seeking to find out what other measures banks are taking to keep home foreclosures on loans they have originated to a minimum and how much money they have directed to nonprofit or community groups working to prevent foreclosures.
He also asks lenders to list "what major obstacles remain to refinancing troubled loans that would benefit from policy actions taken by the federal government or legislation in Congress."
In a separate letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the principals of the federal banking and thrift agencies, Sen. Schumer said regulators should "use their influence over the major market players to encourage them to engage in a major effort to modify or refinance the loans that have a high probability of defaulting."
He asked that the agencies direct "additional federal resources" to nonprofits certified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help troubled borrowers.
"There are many nonprofit groups that are experienced and willing to assist these borrowers, but they are both resource-constrained and need the cooperation of the banks, lenders, and loan servicers," Sen. Schumer wrote.