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White House may back proposal to refinance mortgages: report

Row homes valued at $400,000 each, which are offered for free in a "buy one, get one free" deal, are seen in Escondido
Row homes valued at $400,000 each, which are offered for free in a "buy one, get one free" deal, are seen in Escondido

BANGALORE (Reuters) - The Obama administration is working on proposals to prop up the weak housing market and may back a plan to refinance government-backed mortgages at today's lower interest rates, the New York Times said, citing two people briefed on the discussions.

Administration officials said on Wednesday that they were weighing a range of proposals, including changes to its previous refinancing programs to increase the number of homeowners taking part, according to the New York Times.

The exact layout of the refinancing plan is still under discussion, the paper said.

"We are looking at trying to encourage more participation in all of the programs, including those that help with refinancing," Phyllis Caldwell, who oversees housing policy at the Treasury Department, told the Times.

The officials are also working on a home rental program that would try to shore up housing prices by preventing hundreds of thousands of foreclosed homes from flooding the market, the paper said.

Persistent weakness in the housing market is dragging on the U.S. economy, which is losing its growth momentum under the weight of high unemployment and declining consumer confidence.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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