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Gov't to give $600M in housing aid to 5 states

The Obama administration unveiled Monday $600 million in financial aid for five more states with high unemployment that have been slammed by the housing bust. The funding is for North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina and Rhode Island. It comes on top of the $1.5 billion in funding announced last month by the Obama administration for Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada, which all have deeply depressed home prices. After that announcement, lawmakers in other states pressed Obama officials for additional aid. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who was among those pushing for more help, called the funding "a smart investment that will help Rhode Island and other states that have been hit hardest by the recession." The new money is going to housing finance agencies in states with the most people in counties with unemployment rates above 12 percent. The agencies will design programs that need to be approved by the Treasury Department. Ohio got the largest share of funding, at $172 million, followed by North Carolina at $159 million and South Carolina at $138 million. Oregon and Rhode Island are due to receive $88 million and $43 million respectively. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called the announcement "a victory for Ohio communities." It's the latest tactical chance for the Obama administration, which has been under pressure to do more to tackle the foreclosure crisis after its original plan fell flat. On Friday, the administration launched a plan to reduce the amount some troubled borrowers owe on their home loans and give jobless homeowners a temporary break. Administration officials cautioned that the plan won't stop all foreclosures or help all troubled homeowners. Instead, officials said their goal is to meet their original target, announced last year, of helping 3 million to 4 million borrowers avoid foreclosure. ____ Associated Press Writer Michelle R. Smith contributed to this report from Providence, R.I. 03/29/2010

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