From the Washington Post:
"The Bush administration is finalizing details of a plan to rescue thousands of homeowners at risk of foreclosure by helping them refinance into more affordable mortgages backed by public funds, government officials said.
The proposal is aimed at assisting borrowers who owe their banks more than their homes are worth because of plummeting prices, an issue at the heart of the nation's housing crisis. Under the plan, the Federal Housing Administration would encourage lenders to forgive a portion of those loans and issue new, smaller mortgages in exchange for the financial backing of the federal government.
. . .
The initiative now being crafted could provide relief to a select group of homeowners who are "under water" on their mortgages, a term that describes the situation when falling home prices leave borrowers with negative equity. These homeowners would have to agree to stay in their homes after refinancing, be able to afford the new monthly payments and have lenders who are willing to go along with the plan, officials said.
Administration officials have yet to iron out other details, such as how big the new mortgage should be relative to the home's value".