Impact 5: Mortgage deals by Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and more buoy spirits

Five of the country's biggest banks have agreed to pony up billions of dollars.

Most of it is headed for the pockets of people who have lost their homes or are in danger of foreclosing.

Paula Vito only wishes that the settlement happened three years ago.

"I was pleasantly surprised and shocked," she said. "They're going in the right direction finally."

Banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup have agreed to send $8 billion to troubled homeowners in Florida and $26 billion total for refinancing, lowering principal amounts and for cash payments.

Vito and her husband lost their home in Palm Beach Gardens because refinancing was out of the question, because they were out of work.

"Since we both didn't have any source of income, it was not possible," said Vito.

Claes Bell, a reporter with bankrate.com in North Palm Beach, expects homeowners in Florida who use the money to refinance or lower principal to recoup potentially tens of thousands of dollars each.

"It's at least a gesture towards repairing the damage caused by the housing crisis," said Bell. "And (the damage) that was done by mortgage lenders engaging in shady practices."

It won't cover Americans who borrowed from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But Bell says the settlement covers two-thirds of Americans who've lost their homes, the ones who took out loans from the biggest banks.

But $26 billion, in the scheme of things, only covers a fraction of the damage.

"There are $700 billion of underwater mortgage debt in the United States today," said Bell.

Vito concurs.

After losing her home, she's gotten divorced and moved in with an adult daughter.

"We're making it work. We have to," said Vito.

Bell says many of the homeowners covered by this will be contacted automatically, and that payments are protected by court order.

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