Documents obtained by ProPublica suggest the government coddled mortgage servicers in its flagship foreclosure prevention program despite frequent and serious errors.
Millions of people face losing their homes in the continuing foreclosure crisis, but homeowners often have more than the struggling economy and slumping house prices to worry about: Disorganization within the big banks that service mortgages has made a bad problem worse. Sometimes the communication breakdown within the banks is so complete that it leads to premature or mistaken foreclosures.
Chase Home Finance has rejected some mortgage modifications because it considered the homeowners’ hardships to be temporary. The Treasury Department has since barred that practice, but those homeowners are left struggling to avoid foreclosure.
An examination shows how mortgage servicers have created unnecessary hurdles to getting loan-mods and have violated the government’s rules for the program. “There’s a real resistance on the servicers’ part to making permanent modifications,” said Diane Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center.
Last week, the House Financial Services Committee voted to establish a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The agency would have broad authority – but thanks to fierce lobbying, it’ll also have big gaps. Consumer advocates point to an exemption for auto dealers as one that’s particularly worrisome.
By PAUL KIEL, ProPublica
Among the crowd of government agencies that have rushed to aid the economy, the Federal Housing Administration often gets overlooked. And yet, along with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the FHA has played a huge role in preventing a complete housing collapse. All together, those three currently buy or guarantee more than 90 percent of mortgages. But the FHA is facing mounting losses and, The Wall Street Journal reports, it may soon be forced to notify Congress that its reserves have slipped below the mandated level. What will happen at that point, nobody seems to know.
By PAUL KIEL, ProPublica
Starting with this post, we’ll be updating you every month on the status of the taxpayer-funded bailouts we track in our database — namely the TARP and government rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Recent reports by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have drawn attention to the billions in revenue that the Treasury Department has collected from companies early in returning their TARP investments. While those returns have been encouraging, there’s no question that the taxpayer remains deep in the red.