EXCLUSIVE: Republicans Claim Obama's Housing Help Program Has 'Failed'

GOP says plan hurts economic recovery, homeowners better off defaulting.

ByABC News
February 25, 2010, 10:59 AM

Feb. 25, 2010— -- One year after its inception, the Obama administration's $75 billion housing help program has failed, Republican lawmakers said Thursday in a new report obtained by ABC News.

The report, released by two GOP lawmakers on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asserts that the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) is harming the country's economic recovery.

"By every empirical measure, HAMP has failed," concluded Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio., citing a record number of homeowners in foreclosure.

The administration's program provides incentives for mortgage companies to modify the loans of qualifying borrowers. When the administration unveiled the program last March, officials said the plan would help 3 to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure.

As of the end of January, the Treasury Department said 116,000 borrowers had received permanent loan modifications. While over a million homeowners in all have started trial modifications – saving more than $500 a month, critics have honed in on the low number of permanent modifications as evidence that the program has not succeeded.

According to data released by the Mortgage Bankers Association, a record 15 percent of American mortgage holders are either in foreclosure or at least one payment behind. In the past year, the number of seriously delinquent mortgage owners has soared.

Issa and Jordan said homeowners that failed to secure permanent modifications would be in a better position today if they had not participated in the administration's plan.

"Treasury's own data suggests that hundreds of thousands of homeowners would receive temporary modifications but fail to qualify for permanent ones, thus ultimately leading to default," the lawmakers argued. "These homeowners would have been better off if they had defaulted earlier and spent the payments on more affordable housing options."

Therefore, the GOP congressmen said, the housing plan is damaging the country's overall economic recovery.

"HAMP both hurts homeowners who might otherwise spend their trial period mortgage payments on rent and also distorts the housing market, delaying any recovery," said Issa and Jordan.