Two-thirds of homeowners surveyed in September said they met criteria for a mortgage refinancing program available through the expanded FHA mortgage offerings available under the newly-enacted Hope for Homeowners program, according to a media statement issued Monday by the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta. Homeowners at risk of foreclosure who called CCCS of Greater Atlanta for foreclosure prevention counseling in July and August were polled by e-mail regarding the requirements. Of the 591 homeowners polled, 381 - or 64.6 percent - indicated through their responses that they were eligible to refinance their current mortgages into new fixed-rate loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, according to the CCCS of Greater Atlanta statement. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which became law in July and took effect Oct. 1, created a mortgage refinancing program intended keep homeowners from foreclosure. To qualify, borrowers must indicate they residence in the at-risk home, their mortgage originated before January 2008 and have no existing home equity lines or other second mortgages. Candidates also needed to indicate they do not own another home and they spend 31 percent of their gross monthly income on mortgage debt. "Our survey results indicate this new FHA program holds the potential to help a large number of Americans struggling to pay their mortgage," said CCCS of Greater Atlanta president Suzanne Boas in the press statement. "Not everyone will be able to meet the terms. But if someone meets the basic criteria laid out in the housing bill, it would be worth a phone call to their lender to ask about the FHA program." For the 35 percent of homeowners polled who indicated multiple loans or second mortgages on the at-risk property, eligibility for the refinance program must wait until all second mortgages or home equity loans are paid off. "That could be difficult if the first and second mortgage are held by different lenders because only the primary loan qualifies for the FHA program," CCCS of Greater Atlanta said. Editor’s note: To contact the reporter on this story, email