Why ShametheBanks.org? Because it's been over a year since the Obama Administration and Treasury announced the Making Home Affordable plan, also known as HAMP. The plan was supposed to potentially help nearly six million struggling homeowners by lowering monthly mortgage payments and in some cases reducing principal.
Several months after the plan was announced the Obama Administration, seeing that lenders had no intention of really helping borrowers, decided to try to shame them into modifying mortgages and subsequently published the monthly results of the plan. Needless to say this had very little effect on the bank's conscience or ability to turn things around. You can't shame the shameless, but that was the plan. To Shame the Banks.
According to the latest report by Treasury, just over 170,000 mortgages have been permanently modified. The banks and servicers who participated in the program have offered 1,354,350 homeowners trial modifications - a far cry from six million and a mere 12 percent of those have been converted to permanent modifications. The rest? Who knows?
The Congressional Budget Office reported that HAMP won't even spend the full $50 billion it had allocated to helping homeowners. It will only spend $20 billion. That's $5 billion less than the government spent saving the auto industry and only 3 percent of what it spent saving the banks.
Every once in a while a story will pop up in the press about a homeowner being unfairly treated by a bank, like this Indiana couple who were denied a modification by GMAC for making their payments early. The bank is contacted by the media, the situation is rectified, the bank explains it away and inevitably they simply go back to business as usual with the rest of their customers -the ones who didn't get media attention.
So what about the ones who don't get into the media? The 300,000 homeowners facing foreclosure every month. Many of whom have filled out the paperwork countless times only to be given ridiculous excuses for being denied?
Banks and servicers will string people along by dangling a permanent modification in front of them for several months beyond the normal three month trial period. After having received every payment on time and in full they will deny them a permanent modification and foreclose anyway. So far it's estimated that homeowners have been bilked out of close to $4 billion in this way. A technique paid for by taxpayers. If they do get a modification, it can be nothing more than a difference of $20. The banks call that a modification and collect more taxpayer money.
That's why a few of us came up with ShametheBanks.org. A non-commercial, not-for-profit website for homeowners to tell their story and have it published. Think of it as a petition with your story behind the signature.
As it says on the About page of the site:
We are just everyday people who have either been in the process, are currently in the process or looking into the process of Loan Modifications. Some here are in foreclosure and waiting for the other shoe to fall; some have received a modification that in the end will probably do more harm than good; and others are still waiting to know their fate.
We work our jobs, pay our bills and struggle to find a way to bring it all together for the good of our families. We've reached out to Congress, to Government Agencies who are supposed to help us (HUD and the OCC come to mind), to the Banks and many, many other resources only to be lied to, pushed aside and trampled on and, to top it off, we have been viciously attacked by others who are not fully aware of the truth.
ShametheBanks.org has not been created to make money off of the suffering of others. It has been created to give a voice to each visitor to share their stories and give a true account of what the Banks, Congress and Wall Street are actually doing to American families today.
If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people losing their home, I urge you to tell your story. If you aren't, I'd be willing to bet you are within at least three degrees of separation of someone who is. The people taking your home are banking that you won't find a voice. We're banking that you will.