WASHINGTON – The Bush administration, trying to deal with a worsening housing slump, announced a new initiative Tuesday aimed at helping homeowners about to lose their homes. For qualified homeowners, it will put the foreclosure process on hold for 30 days.
Dubbed “Project Lifeline,” the new program will be available to people who have taken out all types of mortgages, not just the high-cost subprime loans that have been the focus on previous relief efforts.
The program was put together by six of the nation’s largest financial institutions, which service almost 50 percent of the nation’s mortgages.
These lenders say they will contact homeowners who are 90 or more days overdue on their monthly mortgage payments. They will be given the opportunity to put the foreclosure process on pause for 30 days while the lenders try to work out a way to make the mortgage more affordable to the homeowner.
“Project Lifeline is a valuable response, literally a lifeline, for people on the brink of the final steps in foreclosure,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson, said at a joint news conference with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
He said the goal was to provide a temporary pause in the foreclosure process “long enough to find a way out” by allowing homeowners and lenders to negotiate a more affordable mortgage.
Paulson said that the new effort was just one of a number of approaches the administration was pursuing with the mortgage industry to deal with the country’s worst housing slump in more than two decades.