New Mortgage Plan: Lifting Underwater Loans is Crucial

Statement from Michael Calhoun - President, CRL


Center for Responsible Lending
March 26, 2010

 "We welcome the Administration's stronger actions to stabilize the housing market, particularly doing more to lower loan balances on homes worth less than the mortgage.  Foreclosures dragged us into the recession, and until we stop them, the economy will not recover and most homeowners will watch their hard-earned home equity drain away.

Since 2007, we have had 6.6 million foreclosures filed across the nation, and by 2012 that number may climb as high as 13 million. The result is lower home values for everyone. That means most families have less equity to help pay for things like college education and retirement. And more foreclosures means communities have lower tax bases, higher crime, fewer resources for education, and more strain on services such as fire and police protection. 

The Administration's initiative also helps the millions of homeowners who have lost their jobs due to the recession caused by the collapse of the housing market.  In addition, the plan eliminates roadblocks posed by second mortgages, which to date have been a huge obstacle in preventing foreclosures that could be avoided. And we also commend the Administration for making sure that mortgage servicers will no longer be able to sabotage success by proceeding with foreclosure before considering or offering a trial loan modification to a struggling family.

We remain concerned that even these new, improved programs remain voluntary.  Mortgage servicers are not required to participate, and homeowners have little control over the outcome.  It's important to understand that the entire Making Home Affordable program and FHA refinancing system relies on incentives without any mandates—we have carrots, but no sticks. 

A year ago, loan servicers fought stronger measures that would have lifted the current ban against home loan modifications through our court system, insisting they could handle the foreclosure problem on their own.  Today policymakers and communities hit hard by foreclosures are rightly criticizing servicers for tepid results. If the industry fails to respond promptly to today's initiative, it will again reinforce the need for stronger action to require loan modifications in order to accelerate this country's economic recovery." 

Find more info on foreclosure facts, trends and solutions at CRL's "Foreclosure Central"  

For more information: Kathleen Day at (202) 349-1871 or kathleen.day@responsiblelending.org; Ginna Green at (510) 379-5513 or ginna.green@responsiblelending.org; or Charlene Crowell at (919) 313-8523 or charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

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About the Center for Responsible Lending

The Center for Responsible Lending is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization dedicated to protecting homeownership and family wealth by working to eliminate abusive financial practices. CRL is affiliated with Self-Help, one of the nation's largest community development financial institutions.