12/22/2009 09:40 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Loan Mod Delays Worse for Those Struggling, But Not Behind

By Paul Kiel, ProPublica

Since last spring, when President Barack Obama announced his administration’s plan to prevent foreclosures, there’s been a crush of homeowners seeking help from mortgage servicers. Confusion and delays have plagued the entire program, but the problems have been particularly acute for homeowners seeking a modification before they begin falling behind on their mortgage payments.

Some homeowners, like Regan Sciesinski of Florida, have been waiting as long as nine months with no relief. The Sciesinskis seem to be a prime candidate for a modification through the program. His wife, Stacy, was found to have breast cancer in late 2007, and in the past year, a combination of medical costs and reduced income have made their mortgage payments unaffordable for the couple, who have three children. Their home, in a suburb of Tampa, has also dropped about 25 percent in value since they bought it in 2006. Like millions of other homeowners, they’re underwater, stuck with mortgages worth more than the property.

Chase Home Finance, in March. He’s still waiting. Sciesinski says he and his wife have drained their retirement savings and accepted help from other family members to stay current. "We take our obligation seriously," he says, but now they’re facing default and need the modification "because having to move would completely devastate us."

The program was designed to help such homeowners.

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