U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson today announced that he is instructing U.S. Federal Housing Administration-approved lenders to provide additional foreclosure relief to FHA-insured families who live or work in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

The relief affects all pending foreclosures of FHA-insured properties in the federally declared disaster areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as eligible for individual assistance, according to the HUD announcement.

Additionally, the action is intended to block lenders from initiating new foreclosures, according to the announcement. Jackson is also encouraging lenders to undertake actions such as assisting borrowers with hazard and flood insurance filings, waiver of late charges, and mortgage modification.

“It is important that families left devastated in the wake of these hurricanes are able to focus on rebuilding their lives, not worrying about losing their homes,” Jackson said in a statement. “We are committed to helping families rebuild their communities. This moratorium gives families with FHA-insured mortgages time to get back on their feet and peace of mind in knowing there’s a helping hand ready to work with them through the recovery.”

The extended moratorium will be in effect until Feb. 28. A current foreclosure moratorium impacting FHA mortgages in federally declared disaster areas hit by Hurricane Wilma will remain effective until Jan. 22 unless otherwise extended by the secretary, the announcement states.

FHA-insured homeowners can contact HUD’s National Servicing Center at (888) 297-8685. Specific guidance for FHA-approved lenders is available at HUD’s Web site.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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