Treasury Department Extends Mortgage Relief, Refinancing Program

The White House announced that it is extending the Making Home Affordable Program, a refinancing program that has helped home owners lower their monthly mortgage payments and obtain loan modifications. The program, originally set to expire at the end of this year, has been extended two years until Dec. 31, 2015.

The Making Home Affordable Program encompasses the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), among other consumer protections.

More than 1.1 million home owners have received permanent loan modifications on their mortgages through HAMP as of March 2013. The median savings of borrowers who have participated in HAMP is $546 a month — or 38 percent of their previous payment, according to the Treasury Department.

The program encourages lenders to lower monthly mortgage payments of struggling home owners by either reducing the interest rate on the loan or forgiving some of the principal.

“The housing market is gaining steam, but many home owners are still struggling,” said Jacob J. Lew, the Treasury secretary. “Extending the program for two years will benefit many additional families, while maintaining clear standards and accountability for an important part of the mortgage industry.”

The mortgage program was introduced by President Obama in early 2009. Banks and other lenders were slow to participate in the program, however. The government has since tweaked the program to allow more borrowers to qualify for it, after spending only $5.2 billion through March of the $29.9 billion allocated for HAMP.

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