The evaporation of easy credit for home mortgages this year has caused a painful industry shakeout in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to data from state bank regulators. Branches of mortgage banks are closing.

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The Bush administration unveiled a plan yesterday that it hopes will calm jittery markets and ease a nationwide housing slowdown by helping 1.2 million Americans with adjustable-rate mortgages avoid foreclosure by refinancing or modifying their loans.

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Be ready to wait if you want to get information from a toll-free hot line about freezing the interest rate on your subprime mortgage. And once you get through, you may not find the answers you sought.

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