President Barack Obama has signed two housing bills that will provide relief for troubled homeowners that need to refinance, and will crack down on mortgage fraud.

The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act addresses the "administrative and technical hurdles" that make it difficult for families with underwater mortgages to use the Hope for Homeowners program and refinance into Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, according to the President. "This bill removes those hurdles, getting folks into sustainable and affordable mortgages, and more importantly, keeping them in their homes," he said at a White House signing ceremony. The bill (S. 896) also shields mortgage servicers that modify loans from investor lawsuits.

The President also praised the mortgage fraud bill (S. 386), which doubles the resources of the FBI to pursue mortgage fraud and other financial crimes. He noted the bill expands the federal bank fraud and false claims statutes to cover independent mortgage companies and mortgage brokers.

"It expands the Department of Justice's authority to prosecute fraud that takes place in many of the private institutions not covered under current federal bank fraud criminal statutes - institutions where more than half of all subprime mortgages came from as recently as four years ago," Obama said.

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