U.S. Sen. Kit Bond meets with City Council on housing crisis

Friday, March 21, 2008 | 2:27 p.m. CDT; updated 8:12 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — U.S. Sen. Kit Bond met with the City Council and several authorities on housing issues Thursday to discuss potential solutions to rising mortgage rates and declining home values.

“This has become potentially a very real crisis for our financial system,” Bond told the group, which included representatives of the Columbia City Council, bankers, realtors and the United Way.

Bond told the group about the Security Against Foreclosures and Education Act, a bill he’s sponsoring that he believes could be at least a partial solution to the nationwide mortgage crisis.

The act would authorize state housing agencies to issue billions of dollars worth of bonds to help refinance ballooning subprime mortgages to original lower rates. It also would require clearer language on mortgage rates to buyers and speed the delivery of $180 million toward financial counseling for families falling behind on mortgage payments.

Bond already has allocated the $180 million for counseling under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s spending bill from last year.

Council members Laura Nauser, Jerry Wade and Karl Skala agreed that some of the issues addressed by the mortgage bill, such as unclear language in loan details, are big problems in Columbia.

Nauser had some reservations about the act.

“I haven’t quite made up my mind on the issue,” Nauser said. “I have a problem with bailing out people who’ve made bad decisions.”

Mike Gilbert, vice president of Boone County National Bank, attended the roundtable discussion and said the act addresses some issues but won’t completely address any of the problems contributing to the crisis.

“It’s a start,” Gilbert said.

Bond said that although national solutions are a step in the right directions, communities such as Columbia also must develop their own strategies.

“Local problems have got to be solved here at home,” he said.

Wade, who represents the Fourth Ward, agreed.

“They talk about a forum for local conversation,” he said. “We may need to start a conversation about who, how and and what is the city role, and where in the city is that role going to be.”

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