The Washington Post’s Zachary Goldfarb is out with a brief history of the Obama administration’s forays into housing assistance — and it will likely make the White House a bit queasy.
After Ron Suskind’s “Confidence Men” exposed infighting and disorganization in the administration’s response to the financial and economic crises, Goldfarb finds many of the same problems in the White House response to the housing crisis.
Published hours before President Barack Obama will announce another mortgage relief effort for underwater homeowners, Goldfarb reveals that Obama was told that his Home Affordable Modification Program would not be as effective as he said it would be.
HAMP, which allows homeowners to refinance up to 125 per cent of the value of their homes, was supposed to help 3-4 million people according to the White House — but the administration was warned before that it would not be nearly as effective.
Days before the program’s unveiling, David Moffett, the chief executive of housing finance giant Freddie Mac, arrived at the White House with a last-minute warning: Freddie’s analysts had concluded that the proposals were unlikely to help the millions Obama hoped. But, he recalled, the White House didn’t want to hear it.
“They were a little outraged,” Moffett said, adding that he was told, “We need a strong set of numbers.”
On Feb. 18, a day after Obama signed the stimulus bill, he flew to Arizona and rolled out his housing strategy, pledging to “give millions of families resigned to financial ruin a chance to rebuild.”
From the program’s inception in 2009 to June of this year just 838,000 homeowners have been aided by the program.
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