WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush announced steps at the national level last week to help homeowners maintain that status.

"It's not the government's job to bail out speculators, or those who made the decision to buy a home they knew they could never afford. Yet there are many American homeowners who could get through this difficult time with a little flexibility from their lenders, or a little help from their government," he said. "So I strongly urge lenders to work with homeowners to adjust their mortgages."

The president first asked Congress to modernize the Federal Housing Administration to lower downpayment requirements, provide coverage for larger loans, and allow FHA greater pricing flexibility. He noted that the House passed a similar bill with more than 400 votes but has not acted this year.

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