NOV 6, 2012 12:58pm ET

HUD Broadens Relief for Homeowners Hit by Hurricane

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The government continues to broaden relief for homeowners in areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development extended a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures to three counties in Rhode Island on Monday after the president declared them to be disaster areas.

The agency already has directed lenders to halt foreclosure proceedings in 19 counties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as on the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Reservation.

"We don't want families to be victimized twice," Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan told reporters.

The Federal Housing Administration also will insure mortgages for homeowners or tenants whose homes were damaged beyond repair and who are in the process of rebuilding or buying another home. To be eligible, borrowers must purchase a single-family home or unit in an approved condominium project.

HUD also is recommending that lenders show leeway to borrowers whose payments may be due.

JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo all have offered to waive fees and temporarily extend timetables for repaying loans, including residential mortgages, for customers in areas pummeled by the storm.

Fannie Mae has reminded mortgage servicers of their ability to afford relief to any borrower who has been affected by a natural disaster. Within 90 days of the disaster, servicers are expected to contact homeowners in affected areas to determine if they require assistance, Fannie Mae said last week.

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