Less than 10% of TARP housing money spent
Less than 10% of the $45.6 billion Congress allocated for federal and state housing programs after the crisis has been spent as of June 30, according to the special inspector general of TARP.
One $8.1 billion program would have allowed current underwater borrowers get a principal reduction and then refinanced into a new Federal Housing Administration-backed loan. But only 1.7% of the funds have been spent and fewer than 1,500 borrowers made it through the program since it launched in September, according to a SIGTARP report released Wednesday.
This FHA Short Refi was originally thought to reach as many 1.5 million borrowers.
Roughly $29.9 billion was allocated for the long hindered Home Affordable Modification Program and its many sub projects for short sales and unemployment forbearance. But just 6.4% of that money was spent through June. Roughly 1 million borrowers received a permanent HAMP workout so far. A recent expansion is expected by some analysts to bring in another 500,000, but it will still land far short of the original 3 million to 4 million estimate.
Only 1.7% of the $7.6 billion Hardest Hit Fund money was spent as well. This money, initially released in early 2010, went to state housing finance agencies to use for principal reduction, modification and unemployment programs.
In its report released Wednesday, SIGTARP criticized the Treasury Department for not setting goals for the states taking money from HHF.
"Rather than set meaningful goals for HHF and measure progress against those goals, Treasury chooses instead to rely on its requirement that each state estimate the number of households to be assisted. This number has limited usefulness," SIGTARP said. "By refusing to set any goals for the programs, Treasury is subject to criticism that it is attempting to avoid accountability."
Other programs outside of TARP proved more successful, especially the recently expanded Home Affordable Refinance Program for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans. The program doubled this spring, but the boom may slow by September, according to some.
House Republicans voted to end these housing programs last year, but the Senate never acted on the bills. The Obama administration even extended HAMP another year to the end of 2013.
Senate Democrats are still looking to expand refinancing programs in particular. The most recent one from Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., could reach as many as 8 million borrowers paid for by selling government bonds.