Treasury: Mortgage modifications increased in March

The Treasury Department will report Wednesday that 230,000 homeowners have received permanent mortgage modifications, a significant increase over the last period.

Roughly 170,000 homeowners had received permanent modifications as of February.

Over the last year, the administration set up a series of programs to encourage borrowers and lenders to work out modified mortgage terms and avoid foreclosure. The programs are a key part of the administration's effort to stabilize housing markets, which remain weak.

But the ratio of permanent modifications to trial offers remains low. In February, the rate stood at 13 percent. In March, the rate is 16 percent.

Critics, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill, argue the loan modification program has been slow to take effect and many initial modifications do not pan out.