A Review of Treasury's Foreclosure Prevention Programs
The Congressional Oversight Panel's December oversight report, "A Review of Treasury's Foreclosure Prevention Programs," found that in the eight months since the Panel's last report on the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), Treasury has made minor tweaks to the program, but the changes have not resolved the Panel's core concerns. The Panel now estimates that, if current trends hold, HAMP will prevent only 700,000 foreclosures -- far fewer than the three to four million foreclosures that Treasury initially aimed to stop, and vastly fewer than the eight to 13 million foreclosures expected by 2012.
It is too late for Treasury to revamp its foreclosure prevention strategy, but Treasury can still take steps to wring every possible benefit from its programs. Treasury should enable borrowers to apply for loan modifications more easily -- for example, by allowing online applications. Treasury should also carefully monitor and, where appropriate, intervene in cases in which borrowers are falling behind on their HAMP-modified mortgages. Preventing redefaults is an extremely powerful way of magnifying HAMP's impact, as each redefault prevented translates directly into a borrower keeping his home.