Handshakes for Homeowners launches

Program to reward on-time mortgage payments

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.