Homeowners speak directly to housing official


It comes at a time when home ownership should be more affordable than it has been in half a century. The average rate for a 30-year, fixed mortgage sank to 4.69 percent this week, but most people just don't have the income, credit score, or job security to qualify. That frustration fueled Thursday night's meeting in San Jose.

Just about everyone in the room is in the same boat. They are facing foreclosure and are about to lose their home, so they came to Thursday night's meeting hoping to change that.

"The government needs to step in," said homeowner Jose Vega.

Fifteen months ago, President Barack Obama passed the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. It was supposed to give banks incentives to work with homeowners in trouble.

"There's only been 350,000 permanent loan modifications, but meanwhile there's been over five million foreclosures in the last two years," said Tim Lilienthal from Pico.

That's why community action groups organized 10 hearings across the country, so U.S. Treasury representatives could hear, first hand, if HAMP is working.

"I'm not getting any relief from them. They told me, they don't care about the plan," said homeowner Tony Acevedo.

Homeowner Jose Vega said he is in limbo and each time he calls Chase Bank, he gets the runaround and never knows the status of his loan. He pointed out two letters he received on June 15. One letter is regarding the modification and the other is the denial of the modification.

"We talk to five different people, I guarantee you, we're going to get five different answers," said Vega.

HAMP policy director Laura Maggiano was at the meeting to listen. She tried to reassure a very frustrated group.

"We are not satisfied with servicer performance. Our focus now is on holding servicers accountable for their performance," said Maggiano.

Maggiano would not take questions from the media or the audience; only pre-approved ones from organizers.

As for next steps, organizers are pushing director Maggiano to set up a face-to-face meeting in 60 days between community leaders and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

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