U.S. Rep. Brad Miller of Raleigh held a news conference in Washington today to promote legislation that would allow home mortgages to be restructured in bankruptcy like other types of personal debt.
Miller appeared at the Capitol Visitors Center with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and representatives of a coalition of groups supporting the measure, including AARP, AFL-CIO, NAACP, Consumers Union and other civil rights, union and consumer groups.
The two said they would make passage of their bill, The Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act, the first priority of the new Congress, according to Miller's office.
Durbin introduced the bill in October 2007, and Miller introduced a similar bill. Miller's office said he and Durbin, both Democrats, tried over the past year to pass the proposal over the resistance of the Mortgage Bankers of America and Senate Republicans.
"Middle-class families have seen their life’s savings evaporate with the collapse in the value of their homes," Miller said at the press conference. "We are not going to stop the downward spiral of our economy until we stop the collapse of home values. And, we are not going to stop the collapse of home values until we get control of foreclosures."
One in 10 homeowners, or roughly 4.6 million, are either delinquent in their mortgage payments or are in the process of foreclosure, Miller's office said.