The House of Representatives Thursday night passed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 by a vote of 234-191.

If enacted into law, the bill will allow bankruptcy judges to reduce (we like to say, “cram down”) mortgage principals on primary residences in chapter 13 cases. 

The heart of the bill appears to have withstood the opposition of the mortgage industry and their Republican allies.  There were some amendments, however.  One requires a homeowner try to negotiate a voluntary mortgage modification with their lender.  BK judges will also have to verify that a homeowner sought the modification before filing for bankruptcy. 

The bill now goes to the Senate, which may vote on a companion bill next week.