ICBA applauds efforts to bolster housing marketMortgagePress.comICBA, U.S. House of Representatives, American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, HR 3221, Federal Home Loan Bank Community Development The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) applauds the current legislative effort in the U.S. House of Representatives to bolster the troubled housing sector by advancing the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 (HR 3221). "Common sense community bank lenders did not cause the current housing crisis, but we are well positioned and ready and able to help," ICBA said in a letter to the House. "ICBA believes several key provisions in H.R. 3221 will greatly alleviate problems facing homeowners, the troubled housing sector and the broad economy." Specific ICBA-inspired provisions included in the measure are: • A first-time homebuyer tax credit initially proposed as part of ICBA's nine-point economic stimulus proposal presented to Congress in January. • Federal Home Loan Bank Community Development provisions that would expand FHLBanks' support for communities by increasing the number of community banks eligible for advances used to fund small business and agricultural loans and expand collateral to include community development loans. • Permanently increase the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming loan limit in areas with high housing costs. • Allow the FHLBanks to guarantee community bank letters of credit issued to enhance the credit rating of local government bonds thus ensuring that municipal bonds guaranteed in this manner are tax-exempt just like bonds guaranteed by private bond insurers. The ICBA supports Congress's efforts to assist the troubled housing sector and the broader economy and looks forward to working with lawmakers in passing this important legislation. Read ICBAs entire letter at www.icba.org.