Making Home Affordable

What is 'Making Home Affordable'

Making Home Affordable (MHA) is a program that was launched in 2009 as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the federal government's response to the subprime mortgage crisis. The aim of MHA was to aid eligible homeowners by lowering their monthly mortgage payments to a more manageable level.

Making Home Affordable was designed to stabilize the housing market and prevent foreclosures. The reduction in payments may be accomplished either through refinancing or modification of the existing mortgage. The administration of President Barack Obama allocated $75 billion to the program.

BREAKING DOWN 'Making Home Affordable'

The U.S. Department of the Treasury launched the MHA program in early 2009 as a way to "help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure," according to the agency.

"Since its inception, MHA has helped homeowners avoid foreclosure by providing a variety of solutions to modify or refinance their mortgages, get temporary forbearance if they are unemployed, or transition out of homeownership via a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure," Treasury officials explain.

A centerpiece of MHA was its Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) which gives eligible homeowners the chance to lower their monthly mortgage payments.

The Treasury Department also launched other programs under MHA to "help homeowners who are unemployed, 'underwater' on their loan (those who owe more on their home than it is currently worth) or struggling with a second lien."

Such additional programs included the Principal Reduction Alternative (PRA), which was aimed at homeowners with a loan-to-value ratio of more than 115 percent; the Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP), which could give "temporary forbearance" for homeowners who were unemployed; the Second Lien Modification Program (2MP), which created a "mechanism for servicers to modify second liens when a homeowner receives a first lien modification through HAMP," and the the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA), which aimed to help homeowners "exit their homes and transition to a more affordable living situation through a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure."

In 2014, the Obama Administration extended deadline for MHA applications until the end of 2016. The Treasury Department notes that, while MHA has expired, "homeowners are encouraged to contact their mortgage company directly to inquire about available solutions."

Ongoing Services of Making Home Affordable

The Treasury Department notes that more than 1.8 million families were helped directly through HAMP, and that the MHA program "set new standards that have transformed the mortgage industry, resulting in more than 3.9 million private-sector mortgage modifications through October 2013. Together, public and private efforts have helped more than 7 million Americans get mortgage assistance to prevent avoidable foreclosures."

Today, the MHA program maintains a website called makinghomeaffordable.gov and a hotline at 888-995-HOPE to help families learn about their options for mortgage help.

It offers FAQs and glossaries, and advice on finding a housing counselor, applying for mortgage assistance, dealing with mortgage companies, avoiding scams and more. It also makes makes counselors available by phone to "help you understand your options, design a plan to suit your individual situation and prepare your application."

It also gives homeowners already in a HAMP modification a series of resources to help them understand the terms of their modifications, get incentives for timely payments and manage their payments.