Since law enforcement officials first began pursuing banks for misdeeds related to the housing collapse, the stated goal has been the same. The objective, the Justice Department has said, is to hold banks accountable and to aid people most harmed by the financial crash that destroyed home prices and led to an epic wave of foreclosures.
Yet after more than two years of multi-billion dollar deals involving Wall Street’s elite, including Thursday’s $17 billion settlement with Bank of America, most distressed homeowners have no chance of obtaining the form of help considered the gold standard of borrower aid — principal reduction, or the forgiveness of mortgage debt.
“Very rarely does principal reduction happen,” said Ken Falvey, a housing counselor in Ft. Myers, Florida. “We’re not sure where all that money goes.”