WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Monday that its program to prevent foreclosures continued to make slow but steady progress, with the number of homeowners who have received permanently modified mortgages up about 13 percent in April.

The 295,348 permanent modifications amount to about one-quarter of the 1.2 million trial modifications started under the program, which began last year.

During the trial, banks and mortgage servicers reduced a homeowner’s monthly payment for 90 days, with a median reduction of about $500. If the homeowner made the payments and submitted additional paperwork, the servicer made the modification permanent and became eligible for cash incentives from the government.

Servicers have canceled a total of 277,640 trial modifications through April, according to the Treasury Department. That was up sharply from the 155,173 modifications that had been canceled through March. In addition, 3,744 people have had their permanent modifications canceled.

The increased cancellations largely were caused by many servicers granting temporary modifications without verifying homeowner income. Starting June 1, the program requires that all modifications be made based on verified income statements.

The $75 billion program has been criticized for moving too slowly to modify loans to create lower payments for 3 million to 4 million people by the end of 2012.

In December, the Obama administration began pushing mortgage services to move more quickly to convert eligible trial modifications to permanent ones.

Since then, the number of permanent modifications has nearly tripled. Large servicers such as Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup Inc., which had been lagging behind smaller firms, have improved their performance.

Many homeowners and housing advocates have complained about bureaucratic runarounds by servicers in trying to get their mortgages modified. Treasury officials said they planned to collect new data about the performance of companies and release it beginning in July.


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