People’s Republic of California Strikes Again…
Contrary to what voters were led to believe, California took the
unprecedented step this month to give banks and struggling homeowners up
to $100,000 in taxpayer funds to reduce underwater mortgages.
Originally, banks and lenders were supposed to pay 50 percent of
the cost of reducing the principal for those whose homes are worth less
than their mortgage. But when the banks refused, California took the
controversial step of paying the entire amount, up to $100,000.
"We thought, you know, 50-50 was much more attractive and we'd
have much more traction with lenders, and it just didn't turn out to
work as well as we would have liked," said Diane Richardson, legislative
director of the California Housing Finance Agency.
The program, known as the Hardest Hit Housing Market fund, is
part of a $7.6 billion federal effort to help underwater homeowners in
18 states. California received $2 billion. But when banks and lenders
who service loans refused to write down even a small portion of the
negative equity loans, California decided to use the taxpayer money to
pay 100 percent of the mortgage reduction.
Richard Green, a professor of real estate at the University of Southern California, said it's not what taxpayers signed up for.
"I think taxpayers would be furious at the idea that everybody
gets completely off the hook for this," Green said. "There are people
that say, look, I've been a renter all these years, I've been paying my
mortgage all these years, why am I bailing out these people who made a
bad decision? I think the politics of it are very combustible."
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