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More updates on the new legislation aimed at helping Americans obtain Morgage relief from David Lightman of the Hartford Courant:

WASHINGTON – Both houses of Congress sent strong signals this week that help is on the way to lower- and middle-income homeowners, both current and prospective, as members took steps to refashion the Federal Housing Administration as a stronger, more consumer-sensitive agency.

The Senate Banking Committee, by a 20-1 vote Wednesday, agreed to lower the minimum down payment on FHA-backed loans and raise the loan amounts. On Tuesday, the House took similar action and endorsed even bigger loan limits by an overwhelming margin.

Both bills have much in common, notably their chief goal: To ease the subprime mortgage crisis and make the FHA, the New Deal agency that once helped so many lower- and middle-class homeowners for so long, a major player again.

The two houses have some disagreements, and unless those can be reconciled, the help may have to wait. But key players and experts were optimistic.

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