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Primary Residential

Homeowner Assistance Still Not Working

Friday, April 13, 2012 - Article by: Primary Residential - Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc.- Little Rock - Message

Remember the Hardest Hit Fund? Yeah, I didn't think so. In brief the program was started back in 2010 to provide assistance to unemployed homeowners and help them avoid foreclosure. $7.6 billion worth of funds were allocated to the program. As the L.A. Times reported back in March, the program has thus far failed miserably. How miserably, you ask? The program has allocated just $217.4 million to 30,640 homeowners. That's just about 3% of the money that was allotted.

Today there is an update on the program from Christy L. Romero, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). The report delves into some of the reasons that the program failed. The short story is that the program was poorly planned, was rushed, and failed to get the support of major mortgage servicers. Additionally, SIGTARP says that the Treasury has failed to measurable goals for the program other than "to help prevent foreclosures and preserve homeownership." SIGTARP goes on to make a set of recommendations that would help the program succeed. I doubt these will be adopted. Here is a link to the report for your reading pleasure.

Wise words. We sure as hell don't have a plan, and there's not a lot of hope to be found. What we have is a great deal of dysfunction in Washington, which leads a bunch of ill-conceived programs to be thrown against the wall to see what sticks. Apparently the wall is made of Teflon, because nothing is sticking. HAMP, HHF, HARP 1.0 (the jury is still out on 2.0), and FHA Short Refi have all failed to one degree or another. Don't even get me started about the "mortgage settlement."

One of the fundamental problems facing the housing market is the total, utter, and absolute lack of a cohesive policy. Georgetown Law Professor Adam Levitin writes eloquently about this on his blog. If you're not reading him, you should be, his stuff on housing is some of the best there is. I find the lack of vision, leadership, and planning to be galling. We are now 5 years into this crisis. Somewhere around $7 trillion worth of home equity has been vaporized (I guess it was mostly illusory in the first place, but nevertheless). Millions have lost their homes. Still there is no plan. I realize achieving such a goal is not easy, but this is unacceptable. The housing and mortgage market needs better.

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