The Obama administration on Monday committed $600 million in new funds to help struggling homeowners in some of the nation's hardest hit states, part of a growing effort to address the ongoing effects of high unemployment.

Officials from the Treasury Department and White House said the funds being made available to North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina would allow officials in areas that have seen the most concentrated effects of the economic downturn to address issues locally.

The five states eligible for the new funds have wide latitude in using the money, but must first submit a detailed plan to the Treasury to be approved. While the Treasury provided a number of suggestions — assistance to unemployed homeowners and mortgage modifications, for instance — officials stressed that they want local government to design their own programs.

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