The Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) nearly forgotten Hope for Homeowners program may get a jump-start now that Joel Harrison of Banker's Portfolio has lined up an investor willing to make a multibillion-dollar bet on underwater mortgages.

The H4H program turns conforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans that are "underwater" into new FHA-backed mortgages. Harrison said the investor — who he refused to identify — is willing to buy GNMA II H4H MBS. He hopes his Irvine, Calif., firm can deliver $25 billion to $50 billion in H4H loans before the congressionally approved refinancing program sunsets in September 2011. "We are really open to mortgage investors and asset managers contacting us," he said.

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