There's help available for homeowners with high mortgages

Citigroup was fined $7 billion Thursday for its role in the financial meltdown of 2008. The bank sold securities made up of risky, sub-prime mortgages.

In an email obtained by the Justice Department, one Citgroup trader said, "I would not be surprised if half these loans went down."

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CBS News

The $7 bill fine includes a $4.5 billion civil penalty, and $2.5 billion to help consumers who lost their homes to foreclosure.

Six years after the meltdown, many homeowners are still struggling.

There are still 9 million Americans who still owe more on their mortgages than what their homes are worth. Foreclosures in the Miami area cut the value of Raquel Salazar's home by 60 percent.

"It's been a long and tedious nightmare," Salazar said. "To feel that you don't know if you're going to be kicked out of your home from one day to the next. You're in limbo."

Her $4,600-a-month mortgage became unaffordable when her insurance business slowed down and her income dropped. Lenders wouldn't refinance the mortgage because her home's value kept falling.

She was behind four years in payments and more than $100,000 in debt. She said she was about to lose her home, "and trying to work with these banks all the time."

In February, Salazar finally enrolled in a federal program to help homeowners such as her. The government estimates at least 82,000 people in Florida remain eligible.

What was it like to know that she was going to get a modified loan?

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Raquel Salazar
CBS News

"Oh my God, I just started crying and crying of exhilaration. I felt like an angel just fell from the sky," Salazar said.

Some 4.5 million have received mortgage help through the two federal programs known as HAMP and HARP. But another million people are still eligible, so the programs have been extended through 2016.

Counselors say troubled homeowners are still confused by the rules of these programs and the amount of paperwork required.

Raquel Salazar will need 40 years to pay off her loan.

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