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Baltimore Hosts U.S. House Hearing On Foreclosures

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Members of Congress came to Baltimore Tuesday, seeking solutions on how to stop foreclosures and lower the deficit.

Adam May reports how success in Maryland could be a model for the entire country.

Governor Martin O’Malley and the mayor of Baltimore were called to testify at a field hearing held by the House Oversight Committee, examining the mortgage meltdown.

“We are in the grips of a nationwide foreclosure crisis,” said Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings.

Cummings called Iraq war veteran Kevin Matthews, illegally locked out of his home on Northern Parkway when the bank prematurely moved forward on a foreclosure.

“I am an example of everything that can go wrong when lenders abuse the system and are not held accountable,” Matthews said.

Right now, 140,000 Marylanders are behind on their mortgage and one in 1,500 homes are in foreclosure.  They’re grim numbers but also are the lowest since 2009.

“It is the sharpest decline that any state in the country has been able to achieve,” O’Malley said.

Members of Congress are interested in Maryland’s success.

“Mortgage giants in Maryland are now required to meet with homeowners at the negotiating table before they can throw them,” O’Malley said.

The governor also defended President Barack Obama’s widely criticized mortgage relief program.  Republicans call it failure and want it killed to save $30 billion.

“The Hamp program is highly flawed.  By its own testimony, it’s not getting to goals,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, (R) California, Chairman Oversight Committee.  

“What we hope comes out of this is don’t end it, but mend it because then people are left with no recourse,” Cummings said.

Speaking of recourse, Matthews took legal action against the bank and got his house back.

“Don’t be bullied out of your situation.  There’s always an option out there,” Matthews said.

Members of Congress will take the information gathered here in Baltimore back to Washington for future consideration.

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