Did Obama's affordable home program work?

November 5, 2009 7:22:27 PM PST
It has been about six months since the government started taking applications for the president's Making Home Affordable program. Its mission is to prevent foreclosures.

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Back in May, 7 On Your Side started following two homeowners going through the program. A decision has been made on one applicant, while the other remains in limbo.

Myra Garces has lived in her home in Hercules for more than 20 years. She's found the whole application process nerve-wracking.

"Did I lose my home? Did I not lose my home? I had to come up with a plan A, a plan B, a plan C," says Garces.

Gary Robinson has a job developing low income housing for those in need. Now the father of two finds himself trying to save his own home in Antioch.

"The economy's bad. You don't know schooling. You're thinking about how fast will I have to move. So it's frustrating," says Robinson.

Both applied for President Obama's Making Home Affordable program last spring. Both had already previously been denied a loan modification. Robinson had also begun receiving calls from his loan servicer.

"I was getting harassed because I ran a payment or two behind trying to get the modification process started," says Robinson.

Chase Bank gave him a trial modification, which most people accepted into the Obama program, get. The bank reduced his monthly mortgage from $4,800 a month down to $2,000.

Garces also received a trial modification. OneWest Bank, which took over IndyMac, reduced her monthly mortgage from $1,950 down to $1,230.

In all the treasury department says 487,000 homeowners have received trial modifications, but RealtyTrac, which helps people buy and sell distressed homes, tells 7 On Your Side nearly four times as many, or 1.9 million, are currently in foreclosure.

"Looking at the numbers, it's only a small percentage of eligible homeowners who are actually receiving assistance," says Kevin Stein, from the CA Reinvestment Coalition.

Stein thinks Obama's voluntary program needs to have more teeth in it.

"To get serious in addressing the foreclosure crisis, we need policies that require servicers to change loan terms and do that for a long term," says Stein.

The Obama administration says the latest numbers are proof its program is working. Robinson's trial modification is now in its fourth month, but he's still waiting to hear if it'll be made permanent.

"Like I said, you have to think the worst," says Robinson.

Garces got the good news from her servicer just last week. There will be a permanent home loan modification.

"This has been such a long and arduous, painful journey. To finally have this as the final outcome, it was really worth it," says Garces.

The new agreement she signed gives her a 34 year loan at 2 percent interest for the first five years. It caps out at 4.875 percent in years 8 through 34.

"I just remembered, having this epiphany, and I had this conversation with myself, 'Myra, why are you scared? You've always been a fighter. Don't give up now," says Garces.

To find out which lenders are likely to modify your loan, check out the links below.

LINKS:
Latest Obama Program statistics
Making Home Affordable program
Participating servicers

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