In 2007, the Mortgage Bankers Association noted that half of the 1.3 million home mortgage loans were in foreclosure at the end of the July-September quarter. With only one month under our belt this year, private economists already expect the number of foreclosures to double to an astonishing one million in 2008! A new plan announced by the Bush administration on Tuesday, February 12 hopes to alleviate this problem.

Put together by six of the nation’s leading financial institutions, “Project Lifeline” gives homeowners threatened with foreclosure a 30-day extension. These institutions include Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. Countrywide Financial Corp., J.P. Morgan Chase and Co., Washington Mutual Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. As members of the Hope Now Alliance, created by Bush in December, these lenders are responding to a huge mortgage crisis here in the United States.

Previous relief efforts have focused solely on high-cost subprime loans. For example, last year, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton called for a moratorium on subprime 90-day foreclosures. However, this plan was biased against certain homeowners. The “Project Lifeline” initiative is designed to help everyone, no matter what type of mortgage is owned. Homeowners who are at least 90 days overdue on their monthly mortgage will be contacted and given the opportunity to put the foreclosure process on hold for 30 days. During this time, lenders will help said homeowners to a pay a more reasonable rate per month.

The obvious goal of the project is to give homeowners a way out, and to negotiate with lenders on more affordable mortgages. However, if a homeowner has already declared bankruptcy, has an impending foreclosure date or has a mortgage on an investment property or a vacation home, he or she will not be eligible for this program.

Though the program does not guarantee that every struggling homeowner will be helped by “Project Lifeline,” many supporters believe it is a step in the right direction.