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TARP Funds for Housing Relief 90 Percent Unspent, Auditor Says

Distressed homeowners have received only 10 percent of nearly $46 billion in federal aid since the money was allocated in 2009 under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a U.S. auditor’s report said today.

Spending on one of President Obama’s main efforts to avert foreclosures, the Home Affordable Modification Program, totaled $3 billion -- about 10 percent of the $22.7 billion originally obligated at the end of June, the Special Inspector General for the TARP program said in a quarterly report to Congress. HAMP pays lenders to restructure loans so borrowers can afford them.

The report criticized the Treasury Department’s reaction to an audit of a $7.6 billion aid program for families in states with the largest home-price declines. Of that amount, only $351 million had been spent to assist 43,580 homeowners by the end of June, the report said.

“Taxpayers that fund this program have an absolute right to know what the government’s expectations and goals are for using $7.6 billion in TARP funds,” the report said. “By refusing to set any goals for the programs, Treasury is subject to criticism that it is attempting to avoid accountability.”

One program, which allocates $2.7 billion in TARP funds to encourage lenders to write down or eliminate second liens when refinancing properties insured by the Federal Housing Administration, has not resulted in any removals of second liens, the report said.

The Treasury Department has allocated $8.1 billion for a program to allow borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth to refinance into loans insured by the FHA. Of that, $6.6 million has gone for administrative expenses, and 1,437 borrowers have benefited, the report said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Clea Benson in Washington at cbenson20@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at mreynolds34@bloomberg.net

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