House and Senate appropriators approved more funds for a foreclosure mitigation program and included another short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program in a spending bill expected to pass this week.
The combined Transportation, Housing and Agriculture "minibus" appropriations bills for fiscal year 2012 provide $80 million for housing counselors to assist struggling homeowners facing possible foreclosure. In full-year 2011, Congress approved $67.7 million for foreclosure mitigation programs.
The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., and NeighborWorks America will once again distribute the funds, and oversee the effort.
The appropriators also tied a continuing resolution (CR) to the minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 2112) to fund other government operations through Dec. 16. The current CR expires Nov. 18.
If passed as expected, the CR will allow Federal Emergency Management Agency to continue to issue new flood insurance policies through mid-December.
"The National Association of Realtors [NAR] strongly urges Congress to use the additional time to complete work on a 5-year NFIP re-authorization bill to provide certainty and avoid further disruption to real estate markets," NAR president Ron Phipps says in a Nov. 14 letter to Congress.
Congress has been working on a reform bill that extends the flood insurance program for five years.
The House of Representatives passed a five-year NFIP reform bill in July by a 406-22 vote. The Senate Banking Committee passed a similar flood insurance reform bill in September, but several issues need to be resolved before the measure can reach the Senate floor for a vote.
NAR also is urging lawmakers to pass the minibus appropriations bill, which raises the maximum loan limit for Federal Housing Administration-insured loans to $729,750.