by: Jim Bradley Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Questions in homeowners’ assistance arise in BofA settlement
If progress is being made in Bank of America's tentative mortgage settlement with the federal government, no one is saying.
But as negotiations continue, criticism is surfacing about how much help homeowners will get in the deal.
Bruce Marks with the homeowner advocacy group Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America said he's skeptical.
"The government bailed out the banks through TARP. Now the banks are bailing out the government with their billions but where are the homeowners?” Marks said.
Marks said he's unsure how much real help Bank of America’s tentative $16 to $17 billion deal will offer.
It reportedly would give the Justice Department $9 billion and sets aside the remaining $7-$8 billion for homeowner assistance.
Marks wonders how much will really trickle down to homeowners still struggling to pay their mortgages.
“The fact of the matter is that very little of that money actually helps homeowners who are going to be foreclosed on stay in their homes," he said.
For many homeowners, that's exactly the kind of help they need.
In west Charlotte, Curtis Spears said he hopes the settlement dollars do end up with struggling homeowners.
"The economy's been down. There are still a lot of people that's struggling to pay their bills," Spears said.
It's too early to say exactly how any settlement involving Bank of America will dole out money for helping homeowners.
Marks said he's already trying to push for more help and more accountability to those hurt most in the mortgage crisis.
"What's really crazy is here the government has documented that these banks are engaged in fraudulent activity so they can't be trusted. But now we're going to trust them will $7 billion?" Marks said.
If it's approved, the reported $16 billion to $17 billion settlement would be the largest civil penalty ever imposed on a United States corporation.