Support Grows for Foreclosure Policy

Written by: Steve Cook   Tue, March 17, 2009 Consumer Report

Two national surveys conducted immediately after President Obama released the outline of his foreclosure plan ten days ago show a marked shift in public opinion in support of using government aid to help homeowners having problems paying their mortgages.

Yet the nation remains split over whether the policy is fair or unfair to those who have met their mortgage payments.

Though 59 percent say government aid is necessary to stabilize the housing market, a slim plurality, 51 percent to 46 percent, say the policy is unfair, according to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll. The poll also found that Americans are evenly split on whether the Administration’s plan will help stabilize housing prices in their communities, with 46 percent saying it will and 48 percent saying it will not.

A CBS/New York Times Poll found that 61 percent of those surveyed say the government should help homeowners, while just 20 percent oppose such help, but while 35 percent say Mr. Obama’s plan makes them feel relieved for people facing foreclosure, just as many resent the beneficiaries of the program for what respondents see as irresponsible behavior. Both the USA Today and CBS polls were conducted February 20–22, immediately after President Obama released his plan on February 17.

A national survey for the Reecon Advisory Report conducted shortly before Christmas found that 51 percent of adults opposes using Federal bailout funds to help pay the mortgages of homeowners who are in default. Forty-three percent of those surveyed favor helping homeowners in trouble.

Public support for the plan is important because an angry electorate could erode support in Congress. Public opinion also could impact the program’s success because it relies upon homeowners to take the initiative to refinance or modify their mortgages before they default.

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