The president's efforts to revive the housing market have largely failed. But is that entirely Obama's fault?
|Experts say there wasn't much Obama could have done.|
Obama took office in 2009, promising swift action to address the mortgage crisis. He quickly unveiled his signature foreclosure prevention program, known as HAMP, and his refinance program, known as HARP.
But the HAMP program, which was designed to lower troubled borrowers' mortgage rates to no more than 31% of their monthly income, ran into problems almost immediately. Many lenders lost documents, and many borrowers didn't qualify. Three years later, it has helped a scant 910,000 homeowners -- a far cry from the promised 4 million.
HARP, which was intended to reach 5 million borrowers, has yielded about the same results. Through October, when it was revamped and expanded, the program had assisted 962,000.
Meanwhile, more than 3.5 million people remain behind in their mortgage payments and more than 1.9 million homes are in foreclosure. And home prices have fallen for six months straight.
One of the main problems with Obama's foreclosure prevention program was that the housing crisis had already spiraled beyond unaffordable mortgage rates. Homeowners were defaulting because they didn't have jobs -- and the administration's effort did little to help them.
In response, Obama rolled out a multitude of initiatives designed to help the underwater and the unemployed. But few of them have had much impact.
"He focused his gun in the wrong place," said Anthony Sanders, a real estate finance professor at George Mason University. "The administration's approach is to kick the can down the road. That doesn't lead to a recovery and just strings the problem along."
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