Senate Approves Housing Legislation with Wicker-Sponsored GO Zone Provision

July 11, 2008

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today approved the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, housing assistance legislation that included a provision offered by Sen. Roger Wicker that will help rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast by extending tax incentives included in the GO Zone Act of 2005.

 “This legislation is good news for Mississippians having problems keeping up with their mortgage payments.  The measures in this bipartisan housing assistance bill are intended to help struggling homeowners and provide a spark to our economy by offering incentives to new homebuyers.

“This bill also includes an important provision for South Mississippi.  By including an extension of the GO Zone bonus depreciation tax incentive, this legislation will help spur additional rebuilding along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.”

Wicker’s GO Zone provision included in the bill erases the December 31, 2007, construction date contained in the original 2005 GO Zone legislation for the five counties hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina: Pearl River, Stone, Hancock, Harrison and Jackson.  This will allow eligible construction projects in these counties to take advantage of GO Zone’s bonus depreciation tax incentives no matter when ground is broken, as long as the projects are completed by December 31, 2010. 

Wicker added: “The Gulf Coast is rebuilding, but the December 31, 2007, construction commencement date is preventing further progress from occurring.  Due to red tape and environmental delays, too many South Mississippians who wanted to rebuild after Katrina could not take advantage of GO Zone incentives because they couldn’t break ground by the end of 2007.  This provision wipes out the commencement date to ensure those who want to rebuild are able to benefit from the incentives the GO Zone legislation intended to provide.” 

In addition to the GO Zone provision, the legislation allows the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to insure up to $300 billion in new, fixed-rate mortgages.  Additionally, it includes FHA reforms and tightens rules for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage companies.  The measure also includes a refundable tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers and foreclosure protection measures for members of the military. 

The U.S. House has passed a similar housing assistance measure that also includes the GO Zone provision.  The House and Senate are expected to work out the differences between their two bills and send a final measure to the president in the coming weeks.