Treasury Kicks Off 'Making Home Affordable' Program

Saturday, 21 Mar 2009 04:32 AM

By Dave Eberhart

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Thursday launched a new website for consumers seeking information about the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable loan modification and refinancing program.

MakingHomeAffordable.gov offers features including interactive self-assessment tools that will empower borrowers to determine if they’re eligible to participate and calculate the monthly mortgage payment reductions they could stand to realize under the Making Home Affordable program.

First announced by President Barack Obama in February, Making Home Affordable will offer assistance to as many as 7 to 9 million homeowners making a good-faith effort to make their mortgage payments, while attempting to prevent the destructive impact of the housing crisis on families and communities. MakingHomeAffordable.gov is a joint effort of the Department of the Treasury and HUD.

“Education and outreach is central to the success of our Making Home Affordable program,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “Putting resources and tools directly in the hands of homeowners will expedite the process of delivering relief to responsible borrowers, and stabilizing the housing market is central to our overall economic recovery.”

“The tools offered on this site will help American families access the help they need even faster,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Communicating how this program works and who is eligible to those who need it is critical to the program’s success, and this website does just that.”

Since releasing the guidelines to enable servicers to begin modifications of eligible mortgages under Making Home Affordable on March 4th, representatives from Treasury, HUD and other members of a broad interagency task force have conducted detailed briefings and training sessions for mortgage loan servicers and investors, nonprofit housing counselors and nationwide borrower advocacy groups.

Through these early and aggressive efforts to arm those interacting directly with borrowers with information, interagency representatives have briefed more than 2,500 participants on the Administration’s plans in the last two weeks.

A wide array of large banks to small lenders have already agreed to participate in Making Home Affordable, and servicers have undertaken steps to proactively engage borrowers and respond to their inquiries related to the new program. For example, JP Morgan Chase has put several special tools into place and initiated proactive solicitations to eligible borrowers around the Making Home Affordable program, including an online site to provide program details and allow borrowers to download a new financial information package; increased staffing in a dedicated service center that provides simple entry point for all borrowers, including CHASE, heritage Washington Mutual and EMC; a partnership with Fannie Mae to solicit over 125,000 eligible borrowers; and solicitation to an additional 180,000 non-GSE eligible borrowers.

With those wheels in motion, the Administration is now accelerating efforts to communicate directly with borrowers about the Making Home Affordable program. Features of the MakingHomeAffordable.gov website launched today include:

  • Extensive information about the Administration’s Making Home Affordable plan

  • Self assessment tools to allow borrowers to determine if they are eligible for the program

  • A calculator feature that allows homeowners to estimate the reduction to their monthly mortgage payment that they might stand to realize under the plan

  • Resources to find free, HUD-approved counseling services for borrowers who have additional questions

  • A handy checklist to ensure homeowners collect all the documents they need before calling their servicers

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