If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! The federal government takes another shot at curbing the foreclosure crisis

After the first attempt by the Obama Administration to stem the foreclosure tide fell flat (only a fraction of eligible home owners facing foreclosure secured permanent modifications), the federal government is proposing a broad new initiative.

The New York Times reports that the government will now try to reduce the principal for home loan modifications.  To do this, it intends to provide a program by which those who are “underwater” (home value less than what is owed) can refinance into a government-backed mortgage.

This is significant because most (if not all) loan modifications up to now consisted of banks largely shifting interest rates and extending payment terms.  Thus, the actual principal of the loan was never really effected, merely the interest.  As a result, the underlying problem which plagued a lot of homeowners was never truly addressed (that they simply had purchased homes which were beyond their budget).

To fund this new program, the government intends to utilize $50 billion funds previously allotted to the Troubled Asset Relief Program, more commonly known as “TARP.”  Though reaction from many non-profit groups is generally positive, it remains to be seen whether banks will cooperate with the new program.