Wicker Says Housing Bill a Victory for South Mississippi

GO Zone Extension Included in Broad Housing Assistance Package

July 26, 2008

WASHINGTON – The Senate today passed broad housing assistance legislation, sending it to the president to be signed into law, according to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.  Wicker said that in addition to providing assistance for struggling homeowners across the country, the bill also contains a provision he helped push through the Senate that extends GO Zone tax incentives in South Mississippi. 

“This bipartisan package should provide stability to the housing market, and that’s good news for Mississippians and people across the country,” Wicker said.  “Of significance to Mississippi, the bill eliminates a technicality in current law in order to extend important GO Zone tax benefits in the Mississippi counties hardest hit by Katrina.”

The GO Zone provision included in the bill, which Wicker offered as an amendment to previous housing assistance legislation that was included in today’s larger measure, 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 as long as the projects are completed by December 31, 2010. 

Wicker added: “As with any bill of this size, this measure is far from perfect.  It will, however, provide relief to families hurting from our current housing crisis and, most importantly for Mississippi, fix the GO Zone technicality in order to give the Gulf Coast’s rebuilding efforts another needed boost.”

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, while also providing a much-needed regulatory overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage companies.  The bill also provides Fannie and Freddie new emergency financing in order to help restore market confidence, and contains $15 billion in tax credits for new homeowners, including a first-time homebuyer’s credit worth 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to $7,500. 

The House of Representatives passed the measure on Wednesday.  President Bush has said he will sign the bill, which he is expected to do in a matter of days.