JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said the U.S. economic recovery may be gathering steam.

The economy could be at the beginning of a self-sustaining recovery, Dimon told shareholders who gathered in Columbus, Ohio, for the bank's annual meeting.

At the session, several shareholders described how their homes had been foreclosed on by the bank and asked for help staying in their homes.

We are doing everything we can to keep people in their homes that should stay in their homes, Dimon said, reiterating past comments. He added that the bank has added a lot of people and systems to work on mortgage modifications.

JPMorgan's profits last year were as much as $7 billion short of the bank's normal earnings power, largely because of the falling housing market and the costs of cleaning up bad mortgage loans and related lawsuits, Dimon said in his annual letter to shareholders April 4. JPMorgan made a record $17 billion in 2010.

House prices will continue to go down modestly because of the continuous high levels of homes for sale, Dimon said in the letter. The housing market will recover after employment and the economy recover, he said.

JPMorgan took a pre-tax charge of $1.1 billion in the first quarter to account for the higher costs of collecting payments on mortgages, and a charge of $650 million for foreclosure-related matters.

Part of the $1.1 billion charge was due to the expense of hiring an additional 2,000 to 3,000 people to comply with a settlement on mortgage foreclosure practices.

(Reporting by David Henry, writing by Clare Baldwin, editing by Lisa Von Ahn and John Wallace)