A new advertising campaign will "encourage homeowners who are struggling with their monthly mortgage payments to learn about the Making Home Affordable Program," according to the federal Housing Department.
It's being done pro bono, so you can't complain about wasted tax dollars. But, still, doesn't it seem like the Housing and Treasury departments should concentrate on improving Making Home Affordable -- you know, ensuring that more people can use it?
The Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, started sponsoring loan mods in May 2009. The goal was to modify 4 to 5 million mortgages in a few years. In the program's first 13 months, it resulted in 398,021 permanent modifications.
Let's talk about HARP -- the Home Affordable Refinance Program. At first, HARP allowed people to refinance their mortgages if they owed 80 percent to 105 percent of currently appraised value. Last July, that 105 percent threshold was bumped up to 125 percent. That means if you owed $125,000 on a house now worth $100,000, you could get a HARP refi.
It hasn't worked. From last July until the end of March, just 6,535 borrowers were able to take advantage of HARP refis between 105 percent and 125 percent. Another 285,049 got refis at less than 105 percent loan to value. The goal of HARP was to refi 4 to 5 million mortgages by the end of June 2010. The administration's response to HARP's failure was to extend it another year.
With so few people getting modifications under HAMP, and so few people getting refis under HARP, I suspect that the problem isn't lack of awareness. I hear from plenty of homeowners who are aware of the programs but can't get any help.