The Obama administration’s program to help homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages is having difficulty getting off the ground.
Only 200,000-plus homeowners at risk of delinquency or default have had their mortgages modified so far.
The Wall Street Journal cites several obstacles plaguing the plan:
• Some lenders are telling homeowners they have to be in arrears on their payments before receiving assistance. The whole idea of the program, of course, is to keep homeowners current on their payments.
• Lenders are sometimes taking so long to decide whether to offer relief that borrowers who were up to date on their payments when they applied for easier loan terms are now behind on payments.
• It’s unclear exactly who qualifies for assistance.
Lisa Sitkin, a staff attorney with Housing and Economic Rights Advocates in Oakland, had high hopes when the relief plan was announced in February.
Now she feels differently.
“It's disturbing to see that it is several months later, and it's still not up and running at any scale that is meaningful," she told The Journal.
Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr acknowledges the problems. "Servicer performance is insufficient," he told The Journal. Helping at-risk borrowers "is one of the items I think we can do better on."
The Treasury Department’s estimate that the plan can help up to 4 million “may well be optimistic," the Government Accountability Office says in a new report.
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