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More quitting Obama mortgage-aid program

WASHINGTON - The number of homeowners dropping out of the Obama administration's main mortgage assistance plan is growing, and is almost equal to the number who have received permanent relief.

The Treasury Department's report Monday was the latest evidence of problems in the administration's $75-billion program. While officials insist the program is helping the housing market turn around, critics say it is merely delaying an inevitable surge in foreclosures.

More than 299,000 homeowners had received permanent loan modifications as of last month, Treasury said. That's about 25 percent of the 1.2 million who started the program since its March 2009 launch. They are paying, on average, $516 less each month.

However, the number of people nationally who started the process but failed to get their mortgages permanently modified rose dramatically in April.

To complete the program, borrowers must make at least three payments on time. About 277,000 homeowners, or 23 percent of those enrolled, have dropped out during this trial phase. That's up from about 155,000 a month earlier, or a 79 percent increase. - AP

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