Can’t pay your bills? Call the government. It’ll take care of you.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson announced Project Lifeline today. It’s a program designed to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Six mortgage lenders have agreed to stop foreclosure proceedings for at least 30 days against home owners who haven’t been paying their mortgages. The lenders are Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Citigroup, Countrywide Financial, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

Project Lifeline works like this. Lenders will actively contact borrowers who are at least 90 days behind on their mortgages. They will give borrowers options to work out new loan terms with the goal of preventing foreclosure.

Interestingly enough, the Wall St. Journal quoted Secretary Paulson saying borrowers have to bear some responsibility too. If your lender contacts you and you don’t respond, the government can’t help you.

The speechwriter who wrote Secretary Jackson’s speech must have been feeling really nostalgic. It’s all about heart:

“History will judge our efforts, but we will also be judged in our hearts. At this decisive moment, let us remember that the people who need us are our friends and neighbors, the people we see at the grocery store, and the people picking up their kids from school, the people we work with, the people with whom we share our lives. Their homes are usually their most important investment and the fulfillment of a dream. When we save a family from foreclosure, we strengthen our communities and neighborhoods.”

February 12, 2008