Van Jones led group to lobby Rubio & Nelson to support legislation to help underwater home owners

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Coalition members include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, U.S. PIRG, the Center for Responsible Lending, Americans United for Change, and others.

The coalition is pushing three separate bills in the Senate:

? "The Responsible Homeowners Act,? which helps families refinance with historically low interest rates and is sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

? ?The Rebuild Equity Act,? which helps homeowners get above water faster with shorter mortgages, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

? ?The Expanding Refinancing Opportunities Act,? which expands refinancing options for homeowners with non-federally guaranteed loans, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Rebuild the Dream also calls for a "swift and thorough investigation into mortgage fraud by banks and lenders responsible for the crisis."

Will the housing situation become a major issue in this year's president campaign? According to Zillow's
chief economist, Stan Humphries, who says, "If they vote retrospectively ? meaning they look back at what's happened to their fortunes, then negative equity is going to be a big issue, especially in places like Florida where 46 percent of homeowners with mortgages are underwater."

Rebuild the Dream intends on targeting senators in 12 states in addition to Florida, including those in battleground areas like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.

  • Van Jones

According to the real estate website Zillow, over 46 percent of Florida homeowners are underwater, meaning people owe more on their home loan than what the house is worth.

That's dramatically higher than the national average of 31.4 percent.

Currently there are three bills in the U.S. Senate that attempt to deal with this housing crisis, which many economists maintain is the key to ultimately turning around the still moribund U.S. economy.

On Wednesday a new national campaign was announced to spur action on those bills. Calling themselves Rebuild the Dream, the coalition was co-founded by Van Jones, best known as being a former special adviser on green jobs to President Obama.

“While the bankers who put us in this mess roam free, American families are drowning,” Jones said in a press release. “This is just one step toward ending the mortgage crisis, but for millions of Americans it could mean the difference between losing and keeping their homes.”

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