In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Senate has approved reverse mortgage legislation sponsored by freshman Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.). The bill, the lawmaker's first, now advances to President Obama for signing. According to Heck, H.R. 2167 gives the Federal Housing Administration new tools for ensuring that loans serve the interest of senior homeowners who borrow against their equity. The goal of the changes, which are slated to take effect in September, is to reduce the number of troubled loans in FHA's portfolio. Both senior borrowers and taxpayers will benefit, Heck insists. "It's going to enable the FHA to engage in ... a financial advisability and suitability assessment [of a borrower]," he explains. "That can lead to 'you don't get it all up front' or 'we are going to require you to set up an escrow so you can pay your taxes and insurance.'" Heck believes his legislation will save the reverse mortgage program, which was either on its way to being eliminated or altered in a way that would have significantly reduced elderly access to credit.