President Obama announced Tuesday the creation of a task force aimed at investigating the shoddy mortgage-lending practices that contributed to the financial collapse of 2008 and the housing crisis that continues to weigh on the economy.

Obama said he had asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to create a special unit of state attorneys general and federal prosecutors to probe deeper into questionable lending practices and the way in which risky loans were packaged and sold to investors.

“This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans,” Obama said in his State of the Union speech.

The creation of the task force comes as the administration and a coalition of state attorneys general are pushing to finalize a long-awaited, multibillion-dollar settlement with the nation’s largest banks over their flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices.

The deal has drawn criticism from liberal and consumer groups as well as attorneys general from New York, Delaware and other states, who have insisted that more extensive investigations are warranted and that any settlement should not grant banks too broad a liability from future legal action.