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President Bush Signs US Housing Legislation

U.S. President George Bush has signed a bill to help 400,000 people having trouble paying for their homes, as well as two of the country's largest mortgage finance companies.

The president signed the measure early Wednesday at the White House.

A White House statement said the administration looks forward to implementing "new authorities to improve confidence and stability in markets" and provide better oversight over government-sponsored lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The legislation establishes a $300 billion fund to provide more affordable loans to homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages.

It also will allow the Treasury Department to expand government support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two lenders have lost billions of dollars due to a wave of mortgage defaults.

The measure passed both houses of the U.S. Congress last week. President Bush had initially threatened to veto the bill.

The president had been opposed to what the White House described as a $4 billion bailout for lenders in the form of community grants, contending it would encourage lenders to foreclose rather than work with homeowners.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.