LEE COUNTY, Fla. - As thousands of area homeowners struggle to avoid foreclosure, some lawmakers in Washington are calling for an end to a program that was designed to help them.
Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the goverment's bank bailouts, told lawmakers Wednesday the Home Affordable Modification Program - or HAMP - wasn't working.
As of November, about 774,000 homeowners had dropped out of the Obama administration's main foreclosure-relief program. That's about 54 percent of the more than 1.4 million people who applied.
The program had helped more than 500,000 homeowners permanently lower their monthly payments, a far cry from the 3 to 4 million anticipated. Of the $50 billion originally set aside for the program, only about $1 billion has been spent, Barofsky said.
He said Treasury had failed to provide meaningful help for homeowners, which was one of the goals laid out in the bailout law.
"There's no way we're ever going to get close to the three to four million homeowners" that president Barack Obama said the program would help, Barofsky said.
Treasury has refused to set clear goals or say how many people it expects to help, Barofsky said, and that has made it difficult to oversee the program.
Some republican lawmakers say HAMP should go and the money set aside for foreclosure relief be used elsewhere.
WINK News contacted several of the state's elected officials. Congressman Connie Mack's office issued a statement in apparent support of doing away with the program.
"HAMP has had over 800,000 failures, puts homeowners in jeopardy of foreclosure faster, and is another example of a big government failure," Mack said in the statement. "What further proof do the taxpayers need that the HAMP is not working for the people than for its chief to call the program a waste. My office has gotten many complaints about HAMP and homeowners frankly do better by not using this program."
Senator Bill Nelson shared in the frustrations, but said not to give up on the program.
"A lot of us feel the program hasn’t done enough to help homeowners," Nelson said. "But it doesn’t make sense to throw something out, when it could be fixed or improved instead.”
WINK News also reached out to Sen. Rubio, whose office said no statement was available.