Lenders Called Out for Not Helping Homeowners

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Mortgage companies are being pressured by the government to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

A record 14 percent of homeowners with mortgages are either behind on payments or in foreclosure.

Now, the Obama administration is cracking down on companies it says are not doing enough to keep families in their homes.

The move is part of the government's $75 billion "Making Home Affordable" relief program designed to help millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes.

Next month, mortgage companies that are lagging or not meeting the Fed's standards will be published in a treasury publication meant to shame them to action.

"Over the next three years we think that we can give a second chance to up to three or four million homeowners," said Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr.

Barr says more than 650,000 Americans are now in trial modifications and they've seen their monthly mortgage payments go down by an average of $576.

Mortgage companies say they've have had trouble getting borrowers to return the documents necessary to complete the modifications that allow homeowners to have their interest rates reduced to as low as 2 percent for five years.

Also in December, mortgage companies will have to check in with the Treasury Department twice a day to report their progress.

So-called "SWAT" teams made up of representatives from the Treasury and Fannie Mae will be deployed Wednesday to the largest lenders.

"They will be there for three days reporting back on the nature of issues that are rising up in servicer shops that are preventing documents from being received and processed or decisions being made," Home Ownership Prevention Office chief Phyllis Caldwell said.

The Treasury Department will determine if the SWAT teams need to return to continue monitoring the lenders.

The Mortgage Bankers Association has been an outspoken critic of many of the administration's relief plans, but the group is not weighing in on this latest program.

Want to know if you're eligible for assistance on your mortgage?  Call 888-995-HOPE or visit Making Home Affordable online.

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.