The Obama administration announced Monday that it will try and expand HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, to reach to at least one million more people. HARP was introduced in 2009 to help underwater borrowers refinance their mortgages. At the time the administration predicted HARP would help millions of homeowners. But after two and a half years, less than 900,000 homeowners have refinanced under HARP. New changes to HARP will make it possible for homeowners whose mortgages are severely underwater to participate.
On the heels of the debt ceiling crisis, Congress has established a "super committee" to find ways to reduce America's debt. The twelve-member committee began work on debt-reduction strategies this week, aiming to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion by Thanksgiving of this year. But as lawmakers lock horns over where to find spending cuts, we've been asking our listeners for suggestions on how to fix the economy. One suggestion our listeners had was to boost housing prices.
At least 40 states' attorneys general across the country will launch an investigation into the mortgage servicing industry today, which will possibly result in a push for a national moratorium on foreclosures. If they do, it comes as a response to recent announcements by several major banks, who admitted submitting fraudulent or erroneous documents in their foreclosure programs as they worked through massive amounts of foreclosure paperwork.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner convenes a meeting of mortgage analysts and economists today to discuss the future of mortgage financing. There will be a lot of nitty-gritty details, including the amount of debt the federal government should back and the proper role of securitization. However, there’s a bigger question that gets at the heart of American culture: Is home ownership still a social good in and of itself? And how much should the government put on the line to encourage it?
We discuss the implications of the government's next moves, and we want your input: Should the government encourage people to buy their homes? Is property ownership a social good in America today?