3:20 PM EDT
Jerry McNerney, D-CA 11th

Mr. McNERNEY. Mr. Speaker, I represent Stockton, California, which unfortunately has the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Many families in northern California have lost their homes and the foreclosures have lead to personal hardships, community instability and national economic risk.

When my constituents asked me what Congress was doing to fix the economy, I told them we are pushing to create family-wage jobs and put money back in people's pockets. Today we are building on these efforts by considering legislation that will provide fiscally responsible options for families struggling to stay in their homes.

Last December I hosted a workshop for foreclosures in Stockton with my colleague, DENNIS CARDOZA, to provide housing counseling to local families. While we expected the turnout to be high, participants started lining up 2 hours early and, ultimately, more than 500 people showed up.

I heard heart-breaking stories from my constituents, and this is just one single illustration of why today's legislation is so important. One of the biggest challenges facing the housing market is in the high-cost States, like California, that housing programs have not kept pace with the times. Unrealistically low limits for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA mean people living in the high-cost States have not fully benefited from these programs.

The economic stimulus package, temporary loan limit increase to $730,000, raising the loan limit, injects liquidity into the mortgage market to provide access to credit and opens new opportunities for refinancing.

However, since these increases are only temporary, it is clear that making them permanent will have beneficial effects for the housing market. I introduced the Homeowner Opportunity Act to permanently raise the loan limits, and I am pleased that today's legislation includes my bill.

I want to thank Chairman Frank for all of his support and assistance. This change will benefit my constituents and the entire country.