Today the Treasury Department releases its monthly status report on its Home Affordable Modification Program launched last Spring.
This is the one that gives the number of trial mods offered and then lists all the servicers and shows what they are and, more importantly, are not doing for troubled borrowers. The report goes through Sept. 30th, but the Administration didn't want to let an important milestone go by, so they had a short conference call this morning with reporters.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner began: "We are announcing today that half a million families are now participating in loan modifications that are substantially reducing their mortgage costs and therefore increasing the amount of money they get to keep." That was the figure officials targeted several months ago to get to by the end of October, and here we are only at October 8th, so a little back-slapping going on there. "It means that we're now reaching almost half or roughly 40% of the people currently eligible for this program," Geithner added.
What's more important than that milestone, Secretary Geithner aptly points out, is that "the number of people participating in trial modifications is now, for the first time, increasing at a rate faster than new families are becoming eligible for this program, that is, facing the risk of foreclosure."
The statement left me wondering how long that would actually hold true? First of all, we have to be clear that he said those "currently eligible for the program." Now as one reporter on the call pointed out smartly, if the Treasury Secretary says half a million are taking part, and that's roughly 40 percent of the people eligible, that would mean about 1.2 million are eligible, and at the start of the program, the administration said 3-4 million would be eligible.