Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 9, 2009


Zach Carter, Alternet - In February of 2009, newly inaugurated President Obama unveiled a foreclosure prevention program called Making Home Affordable, promising to keep "up to 3 to 4 million" borrowers from losing their homes. But like a similar initiative adopted under the Bush administration, the Obama plan is flawed because it relies on the housing industry itself -- namely the industry's debt collectors, known as mortgage servicers -- to fix the problem. And like the Bush plan, it isn't working especially well, as the Obama administration's own numbers now show. While 1.5 million homes have gone into foreclosure in 2009 as of June 30, just 235,247 borrowers have been granted trial loan modifications under the Obama plan since its inception. . .

Making Home Affordable asks mortgage servicers to identify troubled borrowers and fast-track them to relief. But servicers specialize in squeezing borrowers for money, and have never been interested in devising long-term solutions for people in trouble. The poorly paid individuals, some of them offshore, that they hire to contact homeowners are not trained to renegotiate loans. Obama's program, like the Bush plan, is strictly voluntary -- if servicers don't want to participate, they don't have to. As in the Bush plan, servicers who do participate face no penalties for failing to assist qualified borrowers, and no government agency is policing servicers to make sure they live up to the terms of the contract. Meanwhile, they actually benefit from letting homes fall into foreclosure, because foreclosure means they are guaranteed an upfront payment from the sale of the home.

"Nothing has changed," says Daniel Lindsey, an attorney with Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago who heads the group's home ownership preservation effort. . .

Economists at the Boston Federal Reserve published a paper last month indicating that only 8.5 percent of seriously delinquent borrowers received any kind of loan modification in 2007 and 2008, while only 3 percent received a loan modification that actually reduced their monthly payment. A lot of this so-called help actually drove borrowers deeper into debt and increased their monthly bills. Instead of cutting the interest rate or the loan principal -- that is, the total amount the borrower owes -- servicers would add missed payments and penalty fees to the principal, resulting in more overall debt and higher monthly bills for borrowers. According to an analysis by the Center for Responsible Lending, an advocacy group that promotes fair lending practices, less than 20 percent of the loan modifications reported by Hope Now actually reduced borrowers' monthly payments. . .

Talking to a mortgage servicer is like haggling with the phone company -- except over hundreds of thousands of dollars, your credit rating and your future financial security. When you call a servicer, you're first treated to an electronic call management system. A digital voice warns you that you are talking to a debt collection service and any information you offer will be used for those purposes. The voice then asks you for information about your loan, your house and yourself. Once this is over, you listen to hold music while you wait for an actual person to answer the phone. Depending on the servicer and the time of day, it can take 15 minutes just to get through to an actual human being.

When and if the caller does get through to a live person, many borrowers are simply told they cannot be helped and need to send in payments. But some borrowers get placed on hold and referred to another person in another department and another expert. This can happen several times before you speak to someone with the corporate authority to actually help you. Sometimes calls dead-end in an answering machine. Servicer employees often take down borrower information and take weeks to get back to them. And servicers rarely assign specific people to handle individual borrower cases, so every time a borrower calls, they're subjected to the same bureaucratic mess. . .


Anonymous Question for national poll said...

From caving to AIPAC, kissing bloodsucking health insurance lobbyist ass, threatening the admittedly annoying free speech of tea baggers, reneging on peace, wrecking the US and world economies at the behest of his imperial buddies, being the most pathetic laughable prostitute on endless nauseating tv appearances (we should call him president rerun) continuing indefinite detention and extrajudicial torture and execution, and now proclaiming he has the power to circumvent the legislature via signing statements, is there a more deserving candidate for worst president in history?

August 9, 2009 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Randy' Neuman's dirge for liberal America said...

Print this tab
Listen to Old Man
Randy Newman - Old Man tab
Learn to play "Old Man" with online video lessons
Highlighted Show chord diagrams


e ---|---|-x-|---|---|
B -x-|---|---|---|---|
G ---|-x-|---|---|---|
D ---|---|---|---|---|
A ---|---|---|---|---|
E ---|---|---|---|---|

...OLD MAN... by Randy Newman

*from 'Sail Away' (1972)*


(Original Key: E)

Verse 1:

Every-one has gone a-way;
Can you hear me?
Em C
Can you hear me?

No one cared enough to stay.
Can you hear me?
Em C
Can you hear me?

Chorus 1:

You must remember me old man,
Dm7/C F
I know that you can if you try.
C F/C D7sus D7
So just open up your eyes, old man,
Look who's come to say good-bye.


G7 C/G C7/E,
F D7 F/C C


Verse 2:

C Gm F
The sun has left the sky, old man,
C F9
The birds have flown a-way.
Csus C D7sus D7
And no one came to cry, old man,
Good-bye, old man, good-bye.

Verse 3:

C Gm F
You want to stay, I know you do,
C F9
But it ain't no use to try.
Csus C
'Cos I'll be here,
D7sus D7
And I'm just like you,
Good-bye, old man, good-bye.

Chorus 2:

Won't be no God to comfort you,
You taught me not,
To believe that lie.
You don't need anybody,
No-body needs you;
C#dim7 Em Ebmaj7
Don't cry, old man, don't cry;
C#dim7 Dm6 C/Eb
Every-body dies.

August 9, 2009 9:49 PM  
Anonymous god said...

Or as Flannery O'connor said to the atheists," You think you're so smart; I been believin' in nothin' all my life".

August 9, 2009 11:38 PM  

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