Davis argues that addressing the foreclosure situation is more important than ever. This is due to the fact that we are moving from a scenario where foreclosures were primarily on risky subprime loans that were largely speculative, to the case where foreclosures are happening on loans that would be paid except for the current, and quite possibly persisting, high rate of unemployment.
First, Davis explains why unemployment is a critical part of the foreclosure problem:
Why does unemployment lead to a foreclosure when a house is under water? Consider the case of Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, UI benefits are capped at $1,452 per month. According to the 2007 American Community Survey, the average mortgage payment including all mortgages and taxes in Wisconsin is approximately $1,200. If the unemployed make their mortgage payment, they have roughly $63 per week available for food, transportation, and other necessities. After spending down their assets, the unemployed have no choice but default. They cannot sell their house, because they would have to write the bank a check at closing. They cannot make their mortgage payment, because they would have no money left for food.Then, he describes the WI-FUR plan:
The WI-FUR plan (here for details) specifies that all unemployed receiving UI benefits also receive a housing voucher that can be used to pay the mortgage. The housing voucher would be computed such that, on average in each state, homeowners pay 30% of their UI benefits on their mortgage -- the voucher would cover the balance. In Wisconsin, for example, we advocate for an average voucher of about $764. This would make up for the shortfall in a $1,200 mortgage payment if households pay 30% of their UI benefit ($436 = 0.30 × $1,452) towards their mortgage.Davis himself was skeptical about foreclosure relief as the housing downturn became obvious due to the fact that bailing out people that were engaged in speculation and lost seems like a bad idea. Now, however, he is convinced now that the steep decline in housing prices combined with high unemployment due to the recession make addressing the foreclosure problem imperative.