Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Financial Services housing subcommittee, has scheduled an April 28 mark-up of a bill to create a federally insured zero-downpayment mortgage program.The bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Tiberi, R-Ohio, would eliminate the 3% downpayment requirement on Federal Housing Administration loans for first-time homebuyers who complete a housing counseling requirement. The bill (H.R. 3755) has the support of the Bush administration and lender groups. In a joint letter to Rep. Ney, six trade groups said the bill would increase homeownership opportunities without adversely affecting the health of the FHA insurance fund. "This legislation would allow FHA to continue its rich tradition of innovation and address one of the primary obstacles that prevent many minority and low- and moderate-income families from becoming homeowners: the funds necessary for the downpayment," the April 26 letter says. The American Bankers Association, America's Community Bankers, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Home Builders signed the joint letter.

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