The Fight for the Middle Class: Mortgage Mess

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A government program designed to help millions of mortgage holders only ended up helping about 170,000 people, according to a report issued today by the government's own watchdog, who called the program "meaningless."

The Obama administration said a year ago that its program would help 3 to 4 million homeowners in mortgage trouble. Yet, 6.6 million American homeowners are now late on their mortgages -- a new record.

To date, only 168,000 have had their mortgages permanently modified.

The program was supposed to help homeowners on the brink after taxpayers put up more than $200 billion to bail out the banks.

Today, Neil Barofsky, the Troubled Asset Relief Program special inspector general watching over the program, spoke exclusively to ABC News.

"I don't think this program can be viewed a success unless it helps meaningful numbers of people permanently modify their mortgages so they can stay in their home," he said.

The Treasury Department countered that it does not measure success by the number of mortgages permanently modified.

An Overwhelming Response

Thousands of viewers have reached out to "World News," boiling over with frustration after calling banks and getting no answers.

Many of them were just trying to hold onto their homes -- couples like Leann and Jay Givan of Georgia, who both lost their jobs in the recession.

The Givans said they have been calling Bank of America for six months trying to get their mortgage modified.

"You try to do the right thing, and they treat you like a number," Leann Givan said.

"World News" thought of the Givans today when Bank of America announced a new trial program to modify mortgages for customers underwater.

The bank said today that it has 1 million customers who are more than 60 days late.

So why does the bank's program only aim to help 45,000, about 4 percent of that total figure? That's just a fraction of these homeowners on the brink, so there's no guarantee that the recipients of the help will include the Givans.

ABC News asked if a Bank of America banker would take a question from Leann Givan, who was patiently waiting in her dining room in Georgia.

He obliged.

"Why," she asked, "has it taken more than six months to try and help us now that we are on the brink of foreclosure -- and yet we still haven't heard from anyone?"

"Well, Leann, obviously if you'd give me your loan number offline, I'll look it up and see exactly what's happened to your account," the banker said. "Clearly, six months is not our normal time frame. But we've had a backlog."

Evidently, many of you got back on the phone today after learning of Bank of America's new program.

ABC News asked the banker what he would say to the customers who have called more than a dozen times and have received, quite frankly, the runaround.

"I would apologize to those customers that we haven't provided the level of service our customers demand and we expect," he said.

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