U.S. families struggling to hold on to their homes could soon get more help.

Treasury Department officials unveiled a plan Tuesday to lower payments for families with two home loans.

During the U.S. housing boom, many families, some with poor credit, were able to buy homes by taking out a second mortgage, which enabled them to make lower payments and avoid fees.  These second loans often had high interest rates, and as the economy began to struggle, many families could no longer make their payments.

Officials say the new program will help reduce payments on the second loan or eliminate the loan entirely.

A report issued earlier this month by RealtyTrac, a foreclosure listing company says the number of American households in danger of losing their homes jumped 24 percent during the first three months of 2009, compared to the same time last year.

Officials say the new plan will draw on a $50-billion financial rescue fund.

They say it also will help thousands of homeowners switch from risky home loans to fixed-rate mortgages with lower payments.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says keeping responsible families from losing their homes is critical to stabilizing the housing market and the overall financial system.