Administration to unveil housing steps

The administration plans to modify existing programs to expand help to the unemployed, and to people who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, according to an administration official.

The changes are to the controversial Home Affordable Modification Program as well as to Federal Housing Administration programs.

According to a report in The Washington Post, the administration will ask lenders to slash or eliminate mortgage payments from mortgage holders who are unemployed as part of a new effort to tackle the housing crisis.

The moves comes as the White House shifts its attention to the economy following its significant victory on healthcare. Unemployment stands at 9.7 percent, and a housing crisis is putting even more pressure on the jobless.

Sales of new homes fell to a record low in February, according to data released this week by the Commerce Department.

The announcement also follows intense criticism from Democrats of the administration’s efforts on housing.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner earlier this week, two dozen House Democrats said the foreclosure crisis had only worsened under the Obama administration.