WASHINGTON, March 22 U.S. presidential
candidate Sen. Barack Obama called on Thursday for top economic
policy-makers to convene a conference to help homeowners avoid
losing their homes amid a wave of foreclosures.
Obama, an Illinois Democrat, urged Federal Reserve Chairman
Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to bring
together lenders, consumer advocates, federal regulators and
housing agencies for a summit meeting on preserving home
Foreclosure rates soared among subprime borrowers, those
with blemished credit, at the end of 2006 as adjustable rate
mortgages reset at higher levels and home values moderated or
fell after a five-year U.S. housing boom.
"We cannot sit on the sidelines while increasing numbers of
Americans lose their homes," Obama said in a letter to Bernanke
An estimated 1.5 million homeowners are expected to face
foreclosure in 2007, a 20 percent to 25 percent increase over
last year, according to research firm RealtyTrac.
Obama believes the government's oversight agencies were too
slow to respond to an overheating housing market, an aide
"Regulators are partly responsible for creating the
environment that is leading to rising rates of foreclosure in
the subprime market," the Illinois lawmaker said.