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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Why Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program Failed (Spoiler Alert: Thank Bank Of America et al) -- By Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge

Back when the Executive and Congress at least pretended not to abdicate all power to the Fed, one of the centerpiece programs designed to boost the housing market for the benefit of the poor (as opposed to letting Ben Bernanke make marginal US housing a rental industry owned by a handful of private equity firms and hedge funds), was Barack Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program (or HAMP), which attempted to prevent foreclosures by lowering distressed borrowers’ mortgage payments. Under the program, homeowners would be given trial modifications to prove they can make reduced payments before the changes become permanent. The program was a disaster as of the 3 million foreclosures that were targeted for modification in 2009, only 905,663 mods have been successful nearly five years later - a tiny 13% of the 6.9 million who applied (still, numbers which Obamacare would be delighted to achieve). Part of the reason: the program's reliance on the same industry that sold shoddy mortgages during the housing bubble and improperly sped foreclosures afterward. But there was much more. For the definitive explanation of everything else that went wrong, we go to Bloomberg's Hugh Son whose masterpiece released today explains how and why once again the banks - and especially one of them - won, and everyone else lost.

The story begins at Bank of America where instead of helping homeowners as promised under agreements with the U.S. Treasury Department, the bailed out bank stalled them with repeated requests for paperwork and incorrect income calculations, according to nine former Urban Lending employees. Urban Lending was one of the vendors brought in to handle grievances from lawmakers and regulators on behalf of borrowers, also operated a mail-processing center for HAMP documents. Some borrowers were sent into foreclosure or pricier loan modifications padded with fees resulting from the delays, according to the people, all but two of whom asked to remain anonymous because they signed confidentiality agreements. Curiously, Bank of America authorized Urban Lending to refer to itself as the Office of the CEO and President in letters and telephone conversations to "provide a seamless experience for homeowners who complained directly to Moynihan" in a way that would represent Urban and other vendors like Urban is as an extension of Bank of America.

Son chronicles the accounts of former employees of the BofA (non-) division who help explain why Obama’s plan fell far short of the 3 million averted foreclosures targeted in 2009.
The story continues, once again, at Bank of America:
Bank of America stands out in a program that lawmakers and former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair have called a failure, leaving many homeowners worse off. The second-largest U.S. lender canceled more trial modifications than any mortgage firm and sent the highest percentage of rejected customers into foreclosure, Treasury data show.

To help run its modification program, Bank of America relied on managers who had worked at Countrywide Financial Corp., the subprime lender it took over in 2008. Those executives created and enforced quotas for resolving complaints, according to the former employees. Among them was Rebecca Mairone, found liable by a federal jury in October for defrauding government-backed housing companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while working at Countrywide.

Urban Lending staff, struggling to meet those quotas, resorted to falsifying records and improperly purging complaints, the people said. They sent letters containing inaccurate statements on Office of the CEO and President stationery to lawmakers and U.S. agency officials who sought assistance on behalf of borrowers, the former employees said.

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