Thursday, April 12, 2012

'Hardest Hit' Program Is Falling Short, Report Says

A “hardest hit” fund to help 18 states that were most battered in the mortgage crisis isn’t meeting its goals of helping underwater home owners, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Three percent of the $7.6 billion in the Hardest Hit Housing program has been used by the states since Dec. 31, 2011, but most of those funds so far have gone to help the unemployed and not underwater home owners, according to the report.

According to the report, more than 75 percent of the funds have gone toward shoring up states’ unemployment programs, such as by paying the mortgages of unemployed home owners. But the money was supposed to also be used for loan modifications and principal reductions to help underwater home owners as well, the report says.

The 18 states participating in the hardest hit program were selected due to having the highest number of home owners in negative equity and unemployed.

The Treasury department maintains the fund is serving its purpose. The program provides states the ability to “leverage their unique understanding of the conditions in their communities to create effective, locally-tailored programs," Timothy Massad, assistant secretary for financial stability, wrote in a letter to Romero about the fund.

Source: “Watchdog Blasts Housing Program for ‘Hardest Hit,’” CNNMoney (April 12, 2012)

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