This paper conducts a study of the relative effectiveness of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) - the primary federal mortgage loan modification program - from early 2009 through 2016. It evaluates U.S. Treasury Department and other data sources, and reviews the recent literature on the relative success of the program. The analysis suggests that HAMP’s success rate in modifying mortgage loans was likely constrained by its voluntary design, a structure that enabled lenders and servicers to prioritize the interests of investors in assessing the risks of modification. It then considers the economic issues surrounding the foreclosure issue and presents a theoretical analysis, posing an alternative model illustrating where modification can be cost reducing. Concluding remarks reflect on the importance of promoting economic stability in policy design.