The largest mortgage settlement in U.S. history was pitched by its creators as a deal that would offer quick aid to 1 million people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. But according to a report released Thursday by the court-appointed monitor of the settlement, in the first nine months after the $25 billion deal was struck, fewer than 50,000 people received the most coveted form of relief: reduction of principal owed on a first mortgage.
Meanwhile, more than three times as many borrowers -- 169,000 -- agreed to a short sale, which requires they leave the property, according to the report.
Banks still have time to meet their obligations under the settlement, which requires that 30 percent of total relief come in the form of first mortgage principal reduction. But housing advocates say the limited progress so far -- just 14 percent of aid has gone to write down loan balances -- suggests that banks are avoiding, or at least delaying, their obligation to provide meaningful relief as they promised under the deal.