Project Lifeline: A Lifeline for You or a Lifeline for Banks?

Project Lifeline is the new relief plan that grants a 30-day grace period to homeowners facing foreclosure proceedings. Critics say the plan is for banks, not homeowners.

In mid February, six major lenders (Bank of America, Citigroup, Countrywide Financial, JPMorgan Chase, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo) voluntarily agreed to an initiative known as Project Lifeline.

Less than a week after the announcement was made, the rest of the lenders in the Hope Now Alliance jumped on the bandwagon. Members of the Alliance include nearly 90 percent of the subprime servicing market and nearly 70 percent of the entire mortgage servicing market.

Although Project Lifeline has been adopted by most U.S. servicers, it will not be extended to all borrowers. The lifeline is aimed at severely distressed borrowers only. Homeowners who are less than 90 days past due will not even be considered.

Furthermore, Project Lifeline is more of a statement of intent than an actual program. All it really does is freeze foreclosure proceedings for 30 days to buy homeowners a little more time to work out their mortgage problems. It is not a workout plan, but a delay that allows borrowers more time to sell, refinance or engage in some type of loan modification program.

It is also worth noting the 30 day freeze is not automatic. All lenders are agreeing to do is initiate contact with borrowers. Homeowners who respond may or may not be considered for the 30-day reprieve. It’s up to the lender to decide who gets it and who doesn’t.

Too Little, Too Late?

Not surprisingly, Project Lifeline has been heavily criticized for being a stall tactic for banks versus an actual lifeline for people who are drowning in mortgage debt.

Some of the banks who have voluntarily agreed to this are so capital impaired that they can’t afford to eat the loans and just let borrowers walk away from an appreciating asset. In other words, it is the banks that desperately need a lifeline.

There is also some question as to whether or not the Project Lifeline gesture is just for show. Although lenders have been foreclosing, most have been willing to sit on a bad loan a lot longer than they normally would.

Terry Francisco, a spokesperson for Bank of America, has admitted that Project Lifeline would have little impact on what the bank was already doing to help borrowers.  Francisco said the real goal of the initiative is to make the borrower process “easy to understand.”

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There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. [...] Oh no, never.  I just thought I could help you out.  Relieve your load.  Soften your burdens.  Help you move past all [...]

  2. While project lifeline does appear as a help to homeowners that are facing foreclosure, ultimately its more aimed towards helping the banks :(

  3. In retrospect, whatever happened to Project Lifeline? I guess it petered out, huh? Do you remember Hope for Homeowners? — Epic fail; It’s evolved form, Making Home Affordable is helping but not living up to Obama’s original goals (helping 8-9 million homeowners).

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