Many Arizona homeowners still struggling despite gov't programs - CBS 5 - KPHO

Many Arizona homeowners still struggling despite gov't programs

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

President Barack Obama's visit to the Valley Tuesday will highlight the Valley's housing market, which has had significant gains in home values over the past few months.

However, there's much debate over federal assistance programs designed to help struggling homeowners.

Some real estate experts tell CBS 5 News that the federal programs haven't had the impact in Arizona they were supposed to.

Over the past few years, the federal government rolled out a number of programs, such as the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

Both were designed to encourage lenders to ease loan terms for borrowers who missed payments.

While in Arizona, Obama is expected to discuss the Valley's improving housing market and how his federal programs have played a key role, but Valley real estate expert Tanya Marchiol, with Team Investments, isn't convinced.

Marchiol said the federal housing programs have been a bust, helping only a small percentage of people.

"The programs HAMP, HARP and HAFFA, none of them ever had an end to them," said Marchiol. "They all sounded good, sounded like they could help, but when you get right down to it, you couldn't refinance it. They just couldn't get through the mire to make these programs happen."

The biggest complaints about the programs were that they were too complicated and many underwater homeowners had a hard time qualifying for a mortgage modification.

Homeowners in Arizona were especially frustrated, because home values dropped more than anywhere else in the country.

Patricia Garcia Duarte, the director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix, said thousands of Arizonans are still struggling to stay in their homes.

"We were all very hopefuI that the reach was going to be broader and more families would be getting help," said Duarte. "Unfortunately, not everybody has been able to receive help, who needed help."

The federal housing programs have had better success in other parts of the country.

The Obama administration recently reported that 1.6 million homeowners have gotten help to stay in their homes, as a direct result of federal assistance programs.

And there may still be good news for Arizona, Duarte said.

With home values going up, more homeowners in Arizona qualify for loan modifications, so the federal programs could make a bigger difference in the months ahead, said Duarte. 

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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