July 27,2010

Grassley Presses Treasury for Benchmarks for Foreclosure Assistance Program

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, is urging the Treasury Department to set measurable goals and benchmarks for a housing assistance program that is failing to help struggling homeowners.

“This program is big on spending plans, short on progress,” Grassley said.  “With that lack of direction, it’s no surprise that far fewer homeowners have been helped than intended.”

Grassley sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Friday, urging the Treasury Department to establish specific goals and benchmarks for its Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

Grassley said $50 billion was set aside for the program in 2009, though less than $250 million has been spent, and the TARP-funded HAMP has helped only 165,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure.  That’s far fewer than the 3 million to 4 million homeowners Treasury envisioned when the program was created.

Grassley’s letter comes after a Finance Committee hearing last week that featured Neil Barofksy, special inspector for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, who said Treasury’s failure to establish benchmarks for the housing program “is a failure to recognize the basic tenets of good government program: clear goals, clear expectations and clear description of performance against those benchmarks.”  Barofsky also said Treasury’s “failure” to establish benchmarks forces taxpayers to shoulder additional debt without knowing how many homeowners the program is helping.

Grassley was instrumental in the creation of an independent inspector general to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program.