Published: May 18, 2010 3:52 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - There's new national criticism that the government's programs meant to stop foreclosures may only be delaying the problem.  Some local housing counselors agree the program isn't perfect.

More than a million homeowners have applied for the Obama administration's "Making Home Affordable" modification program; but it appears nearly as many people are leaving the program as getting the help it promises.

"Dealing with lots of people coming in, and who knows how many are out there that are not calling," said foreclosure counselor Carolyn Norris.

The non-profit "Home Ownership Resource Center" tries to stop new foreclosures; and their first recommendation is often the so-called "Obama plan."

"It's designed for the lender to work with the homeowner, and the homeowner to work with the lender as well," Norris said.

Under the program, homeowners must be able to make reduced loan payments over a three month trial period before reducing their bill permanently; but new numbers show, of the 1.2 million who've started the program since last year, just one quarter of them have received permanent modifications.  Nearly another quarter dropped out because they couldn't afford to make it through the trial period.

"We can help people stay in their homes, but eventually they're going to lose their homes if they're, say, unable to pay their bills," said Eddie Felton, director of the Home Ownership Resource Center.

Counselors say the program only addresses part of the foreclosure problem, and can't be fully effective as long as the economy keeps people out of work.

"Someone has to come to the realization that employment is the key to being successful," Felton said.