One year after five of the country's largest banks settled with federal and state officials over claims of wrongful foreclosures, the banks report that they have given over 500,000 struggling homeowners nearly $45.8 billion in aid. But Joseph A. Smith, the independent overseer of the settlement, cautions that thousands of homeowners still are not getting the help they need to avoid losing their homes. Citing interviews with housing advocates and homeowners facing foreclosure, he calculates that slightly less than 71,000 borrowers -- or 13 percent of the total borrowers helped so far -- received assistance on their primary mortgage, which is the main source of defaults and foreclosures. However, more than 170,000 homeowners received assistance on a second mortgage, which may provide some financial relief but still leaves the property vulnerable to foreclosure. The lion's share of assistance, meanwhile, has come in the form of short sales, which do not allow borrowers to keep their homes.
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