Editor's note: A family member of the reporter was one of the people who applied for a rate modification with United Home Relief but is not a subject of this article.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Failed by her lender, her government and her own better judgment, Rosemary Lundgren is now standing in the middle of a mortgage crisis that's three years running with no end in sight.
Lundgren, a 60-year-old cashier from Astoria, Queens, has been trying to get a mortgage modification for nearly half that time, spurred by news of a federal assistance program that the Obama administration unveiled in February 2009. Since then, she's received no assistance from her lender or the government, and paid a purported mortgage specialist $400 upfront for help she says she never received.
In the meantime, Lundgren's finances have become more grisly, with an out-of-work husband and tens of thousands of dollars in unexpected bills. Her mortgage payments are still the same $1,767 per month, at the same interest rate of 6.75%, as they were when the Home Affordable Modification Program was announced. Had Lundgren gotten even a 5% rate when she initiated her efforts, she would have saved $7,330 in the intervening time.Lundgren's dilemma is illustrative of what struggling homeowners face today. Often, they must navigate a complex, haphazard system that is fraught with risk.
"If you go to a bank manager, they say it's out of their hands; you have to go through a 1-800 number," explains Lundgren. "And if you go through a 1-800 number, they say they didn't get the paperwork. Then I tell them I sent the papers in and got approved for a mortgage. And then they tell me I have to reapply with all this 'new' paperwork that I already filed."
Lundgren says she first approached her bank, HSBC
"The banks are all tied up," says Lundgren. "We went to the bank four times and they said it'd take at least six months before they could even look at it."