|By Kimberly Miller, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The growing wait time, called an "alarming trend" by the inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, began to build during the past six months with a backlog that now stands at about 221,500 homeowners.
That's nearly double the number who were waiting in November for responses to their Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) applications, the report notes.
"It is homeowners who suffer the consequences of their mortgage servicers' failure to timely process HAMP applications," the report says. "Without a timely review of their eligibility, struggling homeowners left in limbo may not pursue other foreclosure alternatives and, with options narrowing over time, may be at risk for foreclosure."
In December, Ocwen agreed to pay
Ocwen disputes the numbers in Wednesday's report, saying its internal data differs from what the inspector general found.
"We have reached out to the Treasury officials administering the HAMP program to ensure data reporting is truly apples to apples going forward," the company said in a statement.
For as big as Ocwen's alleged backlog is, the report shows it processing modifications in just under four months.
Both companies defended their loan modification operations.
"We are confident that when analyzing our HAMP pipeline with an understanding of these requirements, our performance would reinforce Chase's efforts to keep families in their homes," a statement read.
The processing time is especially an issue in
"They can't pretend they lost something because if I can see it on my computer, they can see it on their end," Maher said. "We've had turnarounds in two weeks or less, but that's not generally the rule."
HAMP is one of several foreclosure prevention programs that fall under the
"At this point, with so much money unspent that is earmarked for HAMP, Treasury should be pulling out all the stops to ensure that eligible homeowners get into HAMP," the inspector general's report says. "Treasury needs to stop these delays with every tool in their arsenal."
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