With no end in sight to the foreclosure crisis, a majority of Americans are calling on the government to do something about it.
Fifty-eight percent of people polled in a recent Gallup survey say they want the federal government to take direct action in response to rising foreclosure rates, compared to 34 percent of people who say the government should let the housing market take care of itself.
The Gallup poll arrives ahead of what many housing experts agree will be a massive wave of foreclosures in 2012, that is likely to weigh on home values and the economic recovery. At the moment, it takes so long for homes to go through the foreclosure process, that it could take decades in some states just to deal with the homes currently awaiting foreclosure. The real estate company RealtyTrac has estimated that the market needs to process another 14 million properties before the foreclosure crisis can be considered over.
Many economists believe that foreclosures exercise a depressing effect on local property values, and that a broader economic turnaround is unlikely to happen until home prices begin rising again. The decline in housing values since 2006 has erased millions of dollars of homeowner wealth and may have made it harder for people to move to new towns to look for jobs.
But it's not only ordinary Americans who disagree on how to address the foreclosure crisis, politicians have differing views on the best way to handle it as well. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said that the foreclosure market should be allowed to "run its course and hit the bottom." President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has introduced a number of measures aimed at helping struggling homeowners, though not all have been popular and some have been widely perceived as failures.
Obama said in his State of the Union address this Tuesday that he intended to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages into more affordable terms, something that many people have struggled with in the current lifeless housing market.