Madison (WKOW) -- More homeowners will avoid foreclosure, thanks to an $8 billion settlement by Countrywide, over deceptive lending practices.
But, that doesn't help everyone. Thousands of people could still lose their homes.
Countrywide's home retention program only applies to people with sub-prime mortgages. For those with fixed rates who still can not pay the bills, the future looks bleak.
Like many Americans, Larry and Diana Hill took advantage of their home's equity a few years ago to make house repairs.
"In order to get financing for the windows, we had to refinance the house," Diana said. "They got us by the hook and just pulled us in on that one."
After injuries forced both of them out of work, they found themselves unable to make the mortgage payment.
"I didn't purposely go out to get in the hole," Larry said. "I don't think anybody does."
Now they are facing foreclosure. The Hills refinanced through Countrywide, the embattled lender recently bought out by Bank of America. This week, Bank of America settled a lawsuit over deceptive lending, and agreed to work with borrowers who are in trouble, by lowering interest rates and waiving fees.
Tuesday, the Hills talked to Countrywide, and learned they're not eligible for the home retention program because they already have a fixed rate mortgage.
"You keep your head up and try to do it the right way," said Larry. "You might lose everything. But you don't want to lose your dignity."
But still, their lender is trying to help. The Hills worked out a deal with Countrywide. They will continue to pay their $1,500 monthly payment, plus $90 a month toward the back payments they missed.
This stops the foreclosure process that was already underway.
"Communicate with your lenders," said Diana. "You really need to get a hold of them."
The Hills say they will do what they can to keep up their payments until home values bounce back.
"Hopefully we'll weather out this housing slump and financial slump, maybe after the election if the market clears up. Maybe as early as next spring we'll put the house on the market."
The Hills were less than two weeks away from foreclosure. They encourage people to call their banks and lenders before it's too late.
Under the settlement, Countrywide is also offering payments to borrowers who defaulted early in their loans, and helping those who can not stay, even with a fixed rate mortgage, with relocation costs
Countrywide says Wisconsin residents don't qualify for those programs because the state attorney general has to sign on to the program, and Wisconsin's has not.