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HUD offers mortgage relief for terror victims

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to provide mortgage relief to the families directly affected by last week's terrorist attacks.

"At this time of national need, we wanted to provide these families with a sense of security," said Mel Martinez, HUD secretary. "One of the things we want is to remove the issue of security of their homes."

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Martinez said he will direct all FHA-approved lenders to provide relief to families with FHA insured mortgages.

Specifically, he asked lenders not to start or threaten foreclosure for at least 90 days, while the families are recovering from the financial problems caused by the loss of a family member.

Martinez also asked the lenders to forgive late payments.

"We took similar actions during the Gulf War and during Vietnam,"said Martinez.

But what's different now is a request from HUD to all major mortgage lenders, including those that are not insured by FHA, to consider providing relief to the families as well.

"This extraordinary period requires all of us to go the extra mile and a little beyond," said Martinez in a news release. "It is apparent that these families are going through an overwhelming experience. Adding the potential loss of a home, the foundation of many American families, to that stress can be averted with the help of lenders. That is the goal."

Martinez said the response from mortgage bankers had been overwhelming, and that he expected full participation from the private industry. However, he did not mention specific banks and financial institutions.

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