ASSOCIATED PRESS

A mortgage-industry alliance, under pressure to show progress in its efforts to aid troubled borrowers, says lenders gave a record amount of assistance to homeowners last month.

Statistics released yesterday by Hope Now, a group backed by the Bush administration to help stem the mortgage crisis, show that nearly 183,000 borrowers had received some form of loan modification in April. That was the highest monthly number since the effort started last summer.

Lawmakers in Congress, however, call the industry's efforts inadequate. They are pushing for a $300 billion program to allow the government to back new loans for struggling homeowners. Supporters say they are hopeful that the measure could clear Congress by July 4.

Consumer advocates say permanent home-loan modifications, in which a mortgage company agrees to reduce the interest rate or make other changes, are the best way to help borrowers.

The mortgage industry's statistics include repayment plans, which allow borrowers to get back on track after missing payments.

"Unfortunately the foreclosure numbers continue to outpace their success," said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a consumer group in Washington.

More than 243,000 U.S. homes received at least one foreclosure-related filing in April, up 65 percent from the same month last year, according to RealtyTrac Inc.

The Hope Now group, however, said loan servicers, which collect and distribute mortgage payments, had stepped up the pace of loan modifications in recent months. Loan modifications accounted for 42 percent of total assistance in April, up from 19 percent in the third quarter of 2007.

The alliance also contends 1.56 million homeowners have received loan modifications since July 2007. Of those, 30 percent were permanent.

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Homeowners got record assistance last month, a mortgage-industry alliance says.

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