People withdraw money from Citibank ATMs in New York City.
People withdraw money from Citibank ATMs in New York City. - 
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Bill Radke: The Federal Reserve today launches its much-awaited program to boost the availability of credit to consumers and small businesses. The Fed will lend up to $200 billion to spur consumer lending for autos, education, and credit cards. At the same time, Citigroup is offering some assistance. Just days after its third government bailout, Citi this morning announced a new program to help jobless homeowners. Marketplace's Dan Grech has that.


Dan Grech: Citigroup will lower mortgage payments for people who are unemployed and have stopped making payments on their house. Those borrowers would pay an average of $500 a month. That's about a third of a typical payment for mortgages that would qualify for the plan.

Sanjiv Das: You know, when people lose their jobs, they don't have to lose their homes.

That's Sanjiv Das, CEO of CitiMortgage. The plan is only a temporary reprieve -- just three months. And it only applies to mortgages owned and serviced by CitiMortgage. But Das says it's the first program of its kind in the country, and it will help thousands of people.

Das: The more we can keep borrowers in their homes, and the more we can help borrowers stay current with their mortgage as they go through this economic cycle, we will all come out in the right place.

Citigroup received $25 billion in emergency funds last week and is now one-third owned by U.S. taxpayers. But Das says the unemployed homeowner program is an idea that was hatched without government pressure.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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