published Friday, February 13th, 2009

Obama to outline plan to stem home foreclosures

By Alan Zibel

AP Real Estate Writer

WASHINGTON — Several major banks are expanding their efforts to halt home foreclosures while the Obama administration develops its plan to help struggling homeowners.

The White House said President Barack Obama will outline his much-anticipated plan to spend at least $50 billion to prevent foreclosures on Wednesday in a speech in Arizona.

“It’s not intended to be measured by one day’s market scorekeeping, but instead to ensure that the 10,000 Americans each day that have their homes foreclosed on, and the millions more that are barely getting by, are protected,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today without providing other details.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced a revised effort to stabilize the financial system on Monday. It contained outlines of a foreclosure-relief effort, but few details.

More than 2.3 million homeowners faced foreclosure proceedings last year, a whopping 81 percent increase from 2007, and analysts say that number could soar as high as 10 million in the coming years, depending on the severity of the recession.

New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. said today they are halting foreclosures through March 6. And Citigroup Inc. said its halt will extend until the administration has finalized the details of the loan modification program or March 12, whichever is earlier. New York-based Citi’s action expands on a similar effort that it started in November.

The banks’ pledges apply to owner-occupied homes, not those owned by investors.

Obama’s announcement next week is expected to include details about how the administration plans to spend at least $50 billion on foreclosure prevention and establish national standards for modifying home loans.

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