Foreclosures Yes, Modifications No

Citizen Wealth Financial Justice Foreclosure

foreclosure-crisis2Phoenix The government has a website that publishes the miserable statistics and farcical jokes behind the foreclosure modification programs which is called Making Housing Affordable.  Some government wag must have seen the billboard we drove past in Phoenix yesterday advertising new houses with the line:  selling at “foreclosure prices.”  I guess their idea of a program is now increasing foreclosures so that by doing so they are “making housing affordable.”

In Phoenix more than 75% of the home loans are either underwater or behind, and meeting with people last night at the Interfaith Worker Center one person after another raised the issue.  Theresa Trujillo, a teachers union leader in Maryville, told a story of driving down the blocks in her community where she knew her fellow teachers lived and seeing one foreclosed house after another and other homes where five families were living to try and make it.

There have been over 1 million foreclosure filings so far in 2010 of the 6 million families that are behind on their payments and facing foreclosures, yet the number of modifications in the most recent government report is still only a little over 300000 modifications of one sort or another, trial or permanent.  Maybe that means that 5% of the families facing losing their homes have gotten some kind of help during the life of the program, but I’m being kind about the numbers since one figure is current and the other is cumulative.  It hardly mattes since this is a program more well know in the words of one of the inspector generals for “press releases” than modifications.

On the HAMP activity report from the feds, the Phoenix metro area is 6th in the country in terms of activity with about 4% of the total action, but that means about 15000 who supposedly have achieved a “permanent” modification.  There are close to 200,000 foreclosures pending in Arizona with the bulk in the metro area.  This is a huge mismatch.

And, it continues to be the case that people who fully qualify for modifications by the HAMP standards and are still gainfully employed are watching their houses sold out from under them.  Teresa Castor of Arizona Advocates & Actions and I drove by one such house last night after the meeting.  The house was empty.  No sign was in the yard indicating that Bank of America had any plans or intentions.  Looking through the large windows I could tell this was an house that had been treated with care, but then Teresa pointed out the graffiti that was now tagged on several of the walls since the seizure.

Huge problems.  No plans.  No action.