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by CareyBot

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. Staf...