Has HAMP Helped Distressed Homeowners?
By Teke Wiggin
Before the housing bubble burst, Anthony Ugaro lived across from a country club in Bloomfield, N.J. "I was playing golf every day. I thought I was a duke," he said. But the good life began to unravel for Ugaro, 65, when the military veteran lost his job at an electronics company in 2009. Soon after, he was diagnosed with heart disease, which hampered his ability to work and to keep up with mortgage payments.
Suddenly facing foreclosure, Ugaro twice ignored his doctor's advice and took on part-time jobs to make ends meet. His wife, Judy, currently works three jobs, he said, and they have exhausted $55,000 in savings, all to stay afloat.
The Ugaros are the kind of homeowners that government was trying to help with its flagship housing aid program. But three years later, after repeated efforts to work with their lender through the Home Affordable Modification Program, they've joined millions of others who've had their HAMP applications denied, for reasons many of them find hard to understand. And the Ugaros have just about given up hope.
'We Can't Help You' Ugaro said he first applied for a mortgage modification under HAMP about a year ago. Wells Fargo told him that his household did not earn enough monthly income to qualify, he said, so Ungaro, who has six stents in his heart, got a part-time job as a crosswalk guard that he said paid $324 a month. He then reapplied for a modification, but said he was confounded by the bank's response: "They said, 'Now you're making too much. We can't help you.' "I could see why Jesse James robbed banks," said Ugaro, who finally stopped paying his mortgage two months ago and is now trying to sell his home in a short sale. He is one of an estimated 2.8 million distressed borrowers who have been denied a permanent modification under HAMP, according to the Government Accountability Office. By many accounts, HAMP has not been adequately implemented by mortgage servicers.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV