Continuing its effort to boost homeownership in Baltimore, Fannie Mae opened its first office in downtown Baltimore yesterday to administer a $750 million investment plan started in April to help low- to moderate-income families buy homes in the city.

David K. Elam, former development director of the city Department of Housing and Community Development, will head the office at One North Charles Street. Mr. Elam will work with city officials, local mortgage lenders, developers and nonprofit and community groups to make an estimated 10,000 loans over five years, counsel homebuyers and invest in the development and rehabilitation of multiunit housing.

"Our objective will be very simple -- to increase homeownership in the city -- and we also want to increase rental housing for low-income residents," said Mr. Elam, who was joined by Fannie Mae Senior Vice President Glenn Austin, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat.

The Partnership Office, one of the first, is expected to be one of 25 Fannie Mae locations to open in cities as well as rural and underserved areas. Fannie Mae, a federally chartered agency that is the nation's largest source of home mortgage funds, currently operates five regional offices.

The city tapped into Fannie Mae's House Baltimore program in September, offering financial assistance to city government workers buying first homes. Workers who rent or have not owned a home in three years can receive up to $10,000 for down payments, closing costs and renovations through two city programs developed to work with Fannie Mae-backed mortgages.

Hundreds of municipal workers have attended seminars. Of those, 200 loan applicants were interviewed and 70 loans have been settled or await settlement, Mayor Schmoke said yesterday.

Mr. Elam said he hopes to encourage other major city employers to offer similar homeownership programs to their workers.

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