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Americans split on homeowner bailout - poll

Poll: About half of Americans favor special treatment for homeowners facing mortgage default.

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By Beth Braverman, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

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Poll finds Americans split on whether homeowners facing default should receive special treatment.
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Americans remain split on whether homeowners about to default on their mortgages should receive special treatment to help them keep their houses, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Poll.

The poll finds 49% of Americans believe such homeowners should receive special treatment, while 48% feel homeowners should not get assistance. Three percent of those polled had no opinion.

The results reflect telephone interviews with 1,008 adults conducted April 28-April 30. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The poll shows very little change in public opinion on the issue. The same poll conducted in December found 51% of those surveyed favored special treatment, while 46% did not.

Congress also appears split on the issue. On Wednesday, the House began debating Democrat-sponsored legislation that would let the government back loans for homeowners facing foreclosure and would reduce the principal owed on those mortgages. Many Republicans oppose the bill, and President Bush has threatened to veto it.

The proposed legislation would allow the Federal Housing Administration to insure up to $300 billion in new loans over four years.

In order to qualify, lenders would have to cut the debt to no more than 85% of the homes' appraised value. If the FHA-refinanced loans defaulted, the FHA would pay the lender the outstanding principal. To top of page

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