A long-rumored federal Handshakes for Homeowners program is expected to be unveiled today as an incentive for underwater homeowners who avoid mortgage default.

The program is expected to extend a hand, quite literally, to as many as 200,000 homeowners within the next 12-18 months.

A part of the Helping Hands and Hope for Hampered Homeowners (also known as 5H) initiative that launched in August 2008, the new program will reportedly be funded through a little-known grant account approved by Congress as a part of the sweeping health care reform legislation that passed on March 21.

A long-rumored federal Handshakes for Homeowners program is expected to be unveiled today as an incentive for underwater homeowners who avoid mortgage default.

The program is expected to extend a hand, quite literally, to as many as 200,000 homeowners within the next 12-18 months.

A part of the Helping Hands and Hope for Hampered Homeowners (also known as 5H) initiative that launched in August 2008, the new program will reportedly be funded through a little-known grant account approved by Congress as a part of the sweeping health care reform legislation that passed on March 21.

According to insiders, Handshakes for Homeowners will involve the creation of regional centers with a staff of "Handshake Helpers" who will be deployed to area neighborhoods based on need.

Staff will reportedly be trained to offer greetings, a certificate, and a sturdy handshake to select homeowners who continue to pay their mortgage on time. Those homeowners who have not missed a payment for the past five years will also allegedly be eligible for an "I pay my mortgage" T-shirt or a name-brand wristwatch etched with the slogan, "I pay on time."

Lenders will reportedly be incentivized to participate in the program with free offers of tickets to sporting events and concerts, though participation will be entirely voluntary.

"For too long we’ve been hearing from diligent homeowners who’ve asked, ‘Where’s my bailout?’ Well, now it’s time to give them a hand," said Harley Wurthett, the newly appointed administrator for the Treasury Department’s Division of Economic Recovery and Prevention of Future Downturns.

A spokesman for JP Wamerica, one of the financial companies that has pledged support for Handshakes for Homeowners, said, "We lend billions of dollars to homeowners each year. Lending a hand is comparatively cheap and represents far less risk."

The state of California, in conjunction with the federal announcement, today is expected to roll out HEMP (Helping Everyone Make Payments), a pilot program that would allow a group of distressed homeowners to make mortgage payments through profits from the legalized sale of marijuana.

Editor’s note: For further context on this report, please check your calendar. And note that all or portions of this article may be based entirely on anonymous and/or fictitious sources and erroneous information.

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