To help hurricane victims rebuild their homes or relocate, the federal government should consider providing "silent" mortgages that do not require monthly payments, as opposed to grants or low-interest loans, according to a discussion draft of a National Housing Conference paper.Silent mortgages could be much larger than grants and the mortgages would be paid off with interest when the property is sold, according to consultant Jeffrey Lubell, who authored the paper. The interest is based on a percentage of house price appreciation. The NHC paper also points out that many hurricane victims may not to able to afford low-interest government loans to rebuild if they already have mortgage debt. "Families saddled with a rebuilding loan they believe they cannot afford may feel they have little choice but to rebuild and then immediately sell their homes," the paper says. Entitled "Helping Displaced Families Rebuild Their Lives," the paper also outlines how a silent second mortgage and downpayment assistance could help relocated families purchase a home in their new community, even though they have a mortgage on property in a disaster area. Mr. Lubell is a former researcher for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Starting Jan. 1, he will be the new executive director of NHC's research arm -- the Center for Housing Policy.

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