Whether you have bad credit or not, your mortgage may have become too much for you. You tried for a mortgage modification and didn't get one. The nightmare of being hounded for payment and ultimately foreclosed on (you get your name in the paper, too) and evicted is more than you can bear. Is there another way out? Yes, there is.

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Federal and mortgage industry officials are trying to find ways to get distressed borrowers to leave their homes voluntarily, avoiding expensive foreclosures and messy evictions. Citigroup is trying a new program in some states that would allow defaulting borrowers who don't qualify for or don't want mortgage relief the chance to stay in their homes up to six months for free in return for maintaining the property. Bank officials estimate that up to 20,000 homeowners in Texas, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio could take advantage of the offer.

It makes sense for them to do this -- if they foreclose, lenders pay attorney fees and other costs they are unlikely to recover. Then they have property on their books that they have to maintain, protect against vandals, and market under desperate circumstances. It makes sense to keep a family in there to take care of the home and perhaps make selling it easier. Neighborhoods benefit too -- they look less blighted when there aren't gazillions of vacant homes, and the criminal element that vacancies attract stays away.

If you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage, you may not have to move. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow former homeowners to rent their homes after a foreclosure or turning over a the deed to their home. And there are short sales -- as part the Making Home Affordable program, lenders are eligible for $1,000 in exchange for allowing borrowers to sell their home for less than the amount owed -- and forgiving the deficiency.