Some skeptical about foreclosure plan

DURHAM They want to know when neighborhoods and home buyers are going to see results from the tax-payer TARP money.

Some local experts think the first half of the TARP money was mis-handled under Former President George W. Bush. But they think if the root of the economy's trouble is housing, then the solution should focus on homes.

Housing activist Peter Skillern with the Community Reinvestment Association says there are deep discounts on houses in old north Durham, a neighborhood once on the rise.

"The result is this is one of the hardest impacted areas as far as foreclosures go," Skillern said.

Skillern says fixing the financial crisis starts with repairing the housing market and stopping foreclosures.

"That's the catalytic event that's making the banks fail," Skillern said.

Skillern and others think the first half of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program --the TARP money-- under President Bush did little to help the credit crisis.

"I wish I could tell you that there has been an effect. But there has been zero impact of the TARP money at the grass roots level," Crossover Lending Group Mortgage Broker Tony Tidwell said. "Something's wrong. The primary purpose of TARP money is to stimulate that market and it has not happened yet."

Interest rates are down, but Tidwell says it's just as hard to qualify now for a home loan, as it was before the government gave money to banks.

"I think there's genuine anger in the community about TARP funds capitalizing banks to remodel bathrooms for $1.2 million," Skillern said.

On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner promised money specifically to stop foreclosures, but the details are still vague.

"I was disappointed they didn't have a specific response around how they're going to help home-owners. That's where the action is," Skillern said. "Where is it?"

Some predict foreclosures are going to go up as we hear of more lay-offs and higher unemployment.

Foreclosures over the last two months, at least for now, have shown a big decline in people losing their homes.

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