MORTGAGE CRISIS

Homeowner Bailout

How big is the Obama administration’s housing plan? It’ll cost $75 billion over the next several years, and it’s intended to help 9 million homeowners avoid foreclosure. That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect solution, of course. “This is not going to save every person’s home,” acknowledges White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. The program calls for government-controlled mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to refinance mortgages at today’s low market rates, but is limited to borrowers who owe up to 5 percent more than their home’s current value—leaving out severely “underwater” borrowers. Also excluded: mortgages of more than $729,750 for a single-family home, mortgages obtained after Jan. 1, 2009, investors, and people with mortgages on second or third homes. “Some people will not qualify,” says an administration official. “And some people who do qualify will not succeed.”