Key Issues > Federal Response to the Foreclosure Crisis
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Federal Response to the Foreclosure Crisis

Default and foreclosure rates for home mortgages are showing signs of improvement but remain high. The federal government has been seeking ways to help stem the wave of foreclosures and defaults that has adversely affected homeowners, local communities, and the nation's economic recovery.

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  • A range of federal programs has offered relief for millions of struggling homeowners facing potential foreclosure. These programs, such as loan modifications and refinancing into loans with lower interest rates, include $38.5 billion allocated to housing programs funded under Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program.
  • Other federal efforts include programs implemented by the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Veterans Affairs (VA), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (two government-sponsored enterprises).

Challenges to addressing the foreclosure crisis include:

  • The need for comprehensive data-gathering and analysis. This will help ensure that federal foreclosure mitigation programs are effective and fiscal costs are limited.
  • Problems with mortgage servicers' foreclosure processes. Federal laws do not specifically address the foreclosure process, and federal agencies' past oversight of servicers' foreclosure activities has been limited and fragmented.

  • It is unclear the extent to which efforts by mortgage servicers to implement federal agencies’ servicing standards that were in effect as of January 2014 will address previously identified issues such as communication with borrowers and accuracy of information in foreclosure documentation.
Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

Foreclosure Review:

Lessons Learned Could Enhance Continuing Reviews and Activities under Amended Consent Orders
GAO-13-277:
Published: Mar 26, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 2013.

Troubled Asset Relief Program:

Further Actions Needed to Enhance Assessments and Transparency of Housing Programs
GAO-12-783:
Published: Jul 19, 2012. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 2012.

Foreclosure Mitigation:

Agencies Could Improve Effectiveness of Federal Efforts with Additional Data Collection and Analysis
GAO-12-296:
Published: Jun 28, 2012. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 2012.

Mortgage Reform:

Potential Impacts of Provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act on Homebuyers and the Mortgage Market
GAO-11-656:
Published: Jul 19, 2011. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 2011.

Mortgage Foreclosures:

Additional Mortgage Servicer Actions Could Help Reduce the Frequency and Impact of Abandoned Foreclosures
GAO-11-93:
Published: Nov 15, 2010. Publicly Released: Nov 15, 2010.

More Reports

Programa Para Mitigar Activos Problemáticos:

Troubled Asset Relief Program:

More Efforts Needed on Fair Lending Controls and Access for Non-English Speakers in Housing Programs
GAO-14-117:
Published: Feb 6, 2014. Publicly Released: Feb 6, 2014.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act:

Information on Mortgage Protections and Related Education Efforts
GAO-14-221:
Published: Jan 28, 2014. Publicly Released: Jan 28, 2014.

Financial Audit:

Financial Crime:

Foreclosure Rescue Schemes Have Become More Complex, and Efforts to Combat Them Continue
GAO-14-17:
Published: Oct 29, 2013. Publicly Released: Oct 29, 2013.

Federal Housing Administration:

Improving Disposition and Oversight Practices May Increase Returns on Foreclosed Property Sales
GAO-13-542:
Published: Jun 20, 2013. Publicly Released: Jul 22, 2013.

Foreclosure Review:

Lessons Learned Could Enhance Continuing Reviews and Activities under Amended Consent Orders
GAO-13-550T:
Published: Apr 17, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 17, 2013.

Troubled Asset Relief Program:

Treasury Sees Some Returns as It Exits Programs and Continues to Fund Mortgage Programs
GAO-13-192:
Published: Jan 7, 2013. Publicly Released: Jan 7, 2013.

Mortgage Foreclosures:

Regulatory Oversight of Compliance with Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Has Been Limited
GAO-12-700:
Published: Jul 17, 2012. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 2012.

Foreclosure Review:

Opportunities Exist to Further Enhance Borrower Outreach Efforts
GAO-12-776:
Published: Jun 29, 2012. Publicly Released: Jul 5, 2012.
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    • Mathew J. Scire
    • Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment
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    • William B. Shear
    • Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment
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    • Lawrance L. Evans, Jr
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