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H.R. 2961 (rfs) To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize a 3-year [Referred in Senate] ...


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108th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 2961

            To provide mortgage assistance to firefighters.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             July 25, 2003

Mr. Pascrell (for himself, Mrs. Emerson, Mr. Pallone, Mrs. McCarthy of 
  New York, Mr. Weldon of Pennsylvania, Mr. Capuano, Mr. Holden, Mr. 
 Doyle, Mr. Brady of Pennsylvania, Mr. Rahall, Mr. Davis of Tennessee, 
Mr. Rehberg, Mr. Emanuel, Mr. Cooper, Mr. Stenholm, Mr. Owens, and Ms. 
   Woolsey) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
                    Committee on Financial Services

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
            To provide mortgage assistance to firefighters.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Firefighters Affordable Housing 
Act''.

SEC. 2. MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE FOR VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development may 
make mortgage assistance payments under this section on behalf of 
volunteer firefighters to reduce the interest rates on eligible 
mortgage loans under subsection (b) for such firefighters.
    (b) Eligible Mortgages.--Assistance may be provided under this 
section only for a mortgage loan that meets the following requirements:
            (1) Firefighter mortgagor.--The mortgagor under the loan is 
        a volunteer firefighter.
            (2) Principal residence.--The residence subject to the 
        mortgage is a single family residence that is the principal 
        residence of the mortgagor.
            (3) Maximum mortgage amount.--The principal obligation of 
        the mortgage loan does not exceed the principal amount eligible 
        for insurance with respect to the property under the National 
        Housing Act.
            (4) Responsible mortgagee.--The mortgage has been made to, 
        and is held by, a mortgagee that is federally insured or that 
        is otherwise approved by the Secretary as responsible and able 
        to service the mortgage properly.
    (c) Interest Rate Buydowns.--Mortgage assistance under this section 
shall be provided only in the form of a payment or payments to the 
mortgagee in amounts sufficient to decrease by 2 percent the annual 
rate of interest payable on the mortgage by the eligible volunteer 
firefighter who is the mortgagor. Such payments may be made on an up-
front basis or an ongoing monthly basis, as the Secretary considers 
appropriate.
    (d) Terms of Assistance.--
            (1) Termination.--The Secretary shall establish limitations 
        on mortgage assistance payments under this section to ensure 
        that a mortgagor may not receive the benefit of a reduced 
        mortgage interest from such payments for any portion of the 
        term of a mortgage remaining after the occurrence of either of 
        the following:
                    (A) Failure to use as principal residence.--The 
                mortgagor ceases to comply with the requirement under 
                subsection (b)(2).
                    (B) Termination of duties as firefighter.--During 
                the 10-year period beginning upon the execution of the 
                mortgage, the mortgagor ceases to comply with the 
                requirement under subsection (b)(1).
        The Secretary may carry out his paragraph by terminating any 
        ongoing assistance payments under this section or by 
        recapturing from the mortgagor the amount of any assistance 
        payment made on an up-front basis that the Secretary determines 
        is attributable to reducing the interest rate for the portion 
        of the mortgage term remaining after an occurrence described in 
        subparagraph (A) or (B).
            (2) One-time assistance.--The Secretary may make assistance 
        payments under this subsection with respect only to a single 
        mortgage loan of an eligible volunteer firefighter.
    (e) Applications.--The Secretary shall provide for volunteer 
firefighters to submit applications for mortgage assistance under this 
section and for review of such applications to determine eligibility 
for such assistance. Assistance shall be made available on a first-
come, first-served basis for applications eligible for such assistance.
    (f) Report.--The Secretary shall submit to the Congress, not later 
than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, a report 
containing a description of the activities of the Secretary under the 
mortgage assistance program under this section and an analysis of the 
effectiveness of such program in assisting home buyers that are 
eligible volunteer firefighters.
    (g) Definitions.--For purposes of this section, the following 
definitions shall apply:
            (1) Public agency.--The term ``public agency'' means the 
        United States, any State of the United States, the District of 
        Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of 
        the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Virgin Islands, 
        American Samoa, and any other territory or possession of the 
        United States, or any unit of general local government, 
        department, agency, or instrumentality of any entity referred 
        to in this paragraph.
            (2) Public fire service.--The term ``public fire service'' 
        means a public agency consisting of personnel, apparatus, and 
        equipment which has as its primary purpose the provision of 
        services to protect property and maintaining the safety and 
        welfare of the public from the dangers of fire, regardless of 
        whether the personnel of any such organization include paid 
        employees. Such term includes a public agency that also 
        provides ambulance services or rescue services.
            (3) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
        of Housing and Urban Development.
            (4) Single family residence.--The term ``single family 
        residence'' means a 1- to 4-family residence. Such term 
        includes a unit in a cooperative.
            (5) Volunteer firefighter.--
                    (A) In general.--The term ``volunteer firefighter'' 
                means an individual who--
                            (i)(I) carries out duties for a public fire 
                        service that consist primarily of work directly 
                        connected with--
                                    (aa) the control and extinguishment 
                                of fires or the maintenance and use of 
                                firefighting apparatus and equipment; 
                                or
                                    (bb) if the public fire service for 
                                which the individual carries out duties 
                                provides ambulance or rescue services, 
                                the provision of ambulance or rescue 
                                services or the maintenance of 
                                ambulance or rescue apparatus or 
                                equipment; and
                            (II) does not receive any remuneration in 
                        the form of pay, salary, or wages for 
                        conducting the duties referred to in subclause 
                        (I); or
                            (ii) otherwise serves on a volunteer basis 
                        as a firefighter, as determined by the 
                        Secretary.
                    (B) Allowable benefits.--An individual described in 
                subparagraph (A) shall not be excluded from treatment 
                under this section as a volunteer firefighter because 
                such individual is provided, in connection with the 
                duties referred to in subparagraph (A)--
                            (i) reimbursement or allowance for expenses 
                        actually incurred;
                            (ii) insurance coverage for injuries 
                        proximately caused by such duties;
                            (iii) food and lodging while on service for 
                        such duties; or
                            (iv) any other benefits that the Secretary 
                        determines are appropriate for purposes of this 
                        section.
    (h) Regulations.--The Secretary shall issue any regulations 
necessary to carry out this section.
    (i) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be 
appropriated for assistance payments under this section $20,000,000 for 
each of fiscal years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

SEC. 3. REDUCED FHA DOWNPAYMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR LOANS FOR PROFESSIONAL 
              FIREFIGHTERS.

    (a) In General.--Section 203(b) of the National Housing Act (12 
U.S.C. 1709(b)) is amended by adding at the end the following new 
paragraph:
            ``(10) Reduced downpayment requirements for professional 
        firefighters.--
                    ``(A) In general.--Notwithstanding paragraph (2), 
                in the case of a mortgage described in subparagraph 
                (B)--
                            ``(i) the mortgage shall involve a 
                        principal obligation in an amount that does not 
                        exceed the sum of 99 percent of the appraised 
                        value of the property and the total amount of 
                        initial service charges, appraisal, inspection, 
                        and other fees (as the Secretary shall approve) 
                        paid in connection with the mortgage;
                            ``(ii) no other provision of this 
                        subsection limiting the principal obligation of 
                        the mortgage based upon a percentage of the 
                        appraised value of the property subject to the 
                        mortgage shall apply; and
                            ``(iii) the matter in paragraph (9) that 
                        precedes the first proviso shall not apply and 
                        the mortgage shall be executed by a mortgagor 
                        who shall have paid on account of the property 
                        at least 1 percent of the cost of acquisition 
                        (as determined by the Secretary) in cash or its 
                        equivalent.
                    ``(B) Mortgages covered.--A mortgage described in 
                this subparagraph is a mortgage--
                            ``(i) under which the mortgagor--
                                    ``(I) is a firefighter; and
                                    ``(II) has not, during the 12-month 
                                period ending upon the insurance of the 
                                mortgage, had any present ownership 
                                interest in a principal residence 
                                located in the jurisdiction described 
                                in clause (ii); and
                            ``(ii) made for a property that is located 
                        within the jurisdiction served by the public 
                        fire service or rescue or ambulance agency that 
                        employs the mortgagor.
                    ``(C) Definitions.--For purposes of this paragraph, 
                the following definitions shall apply:
                            ``(i) Firefighter.--The term `firefighter' 
                        means an individual--
                                    ``(I) who is employed on a full-
                                time basis by a public fire service or 
                                a private firefighting brigade; and
                                    ``(II) the duties of whose position 
                                are primarily to perform work directly 
                                connected with (aa) the control and 
                                extinguishment of fires or the 
                                maintenance and use of firefighting 
                                apparatus and equipment, or (bb) if the 
                                public fire service or private 
                                firefighting brigade employing the 
                                individual provides ambulance or rescue 
                                services, the provision of ambulance or 
                                rescue services or the maintenance of 
                                ambulance or rescue apparatus or 
                                equipment.
                            ``(ii) Public agency.--The term `public 
                        agency' means the United States, any State of 
                        the United States, the District of Columbia, 
                        the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the 
                        Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, 
                        Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and 
                        any other territory or possession of the United 
                        States, or any unit of general local 
                        government, department, agency, or 
                        instrumentality of any entity referred to in 
                        this subparagraph.
                            ``(iii) Public fire service.--The term 
                        `public fire service' means a public agency 
                        consisting of personnel, apparatus, and 
                        equipment which has as its primary purpose the 
                        provision of services to protect property and 
                        maintaining the safety and welfare of the 
                        public from the dangers of fire. Such term 
                        includes a public agency that also provides 
                        ambulance service or rescue services.''.
    (b) Deferral and Reduction of Up-Front Premium.--Section 203(c) of 
the National Housing Act (12 U.S.C. 1709(c)) is amended--
            (1) in paragraph (2), in the matter preceding subparagraph 
        (A), by striking ``Notwithstanding'' and inserting ``Except as 
        provided in paragraph (3) and notwithstanding''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
    ``(3) Deferral and reduction of up-front premium.--In the case of 
any mortgage described in subsection (b)(10)(B):
            ``(A) Paragraph (2)(A) of this subsection (relating to 
        collection of up-front premium payments) shall not apply.
            ``(B) If, at any time during the 5-year period beginning on 
        the date of the insurance of the mortgage, the mortgagor ceases 
        to be a firefighter (as such term is defined in subsection 
        (b)(10)(C)) or pays the principal obligation of the mortgage in 
        full, the Secretary shall at such time collect a single premium 
        payment in an amount equal to the amount of the single premium 
        payment that, but for this paragraph, would have been required 
        under paragraph (2)(A) of this subsection with respect to the 
        mortgage, as reduced by 20 percent of such amount for each 
        successive 12-month period completed during such 5-year period 
        before such cessation or prepayment occurs.''.
                                 <all>

Pages: 1

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