<p>WASHINGTON – Mayors from around the country attending the National Housing Forum May 20-22, released a set of recommendations to address the country's affordable housing crisis. Among their recommendations which were compiled in a report, "National Housing Agenda: A Springboard for Families, for Communities, for Our Nation," and which are to be presented to HUD Secretary Mel Martinez and Congress, the mayors announced their support for creating a new national homeownership tax credit to make buying a home more affordable for those with low and moderate incomes. About 90% of the benefits from the existing mortgage interest tax deduction go to those consumers with annual incomes over $40,000. The proposed targeted tax credit could help some people who are currently unable to afford to purchase a house, the mayors said. They also recommended establishing a national affordable housing trust fund to provide a reliable and dedicated source of funding to address the housing needs primarily of those with low incomes. Some of the mayors' other recommendations concerning homeownership included: having Congress expand the CRA to cover entities currently not included by the act such as marketing companies, expand CRA regulations to local operations when the financial institutions is not locally owned, and expand the CRA rating to include comprehensive community development activities; the public and private sectors should develop a secondary market for lenders to non-tranditional borrowers who have had appropriate counseling and a seasoned performing loan. Congress should fund comprehensive strategies such as the homeownership zone, Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Zones. FHA should extend the amortization period to 40 years. The mayors' recommendations are expected to be discussed fully at the 70th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Madison, Wis., June 14-18.</p>

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