Fair helps minorities, poor, middle income buy homes


Due to an editing error, an article in Sunday's Maryland section incorrectly reported that Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association, sponsored a homeowners fair Saturday. In fact, the event was sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation, a private, nonprofit organization.

The Sun regrets the error.

The Baltimore Convention Center was packed with would-be homeowners yesterday for a fair geared to minority and low- and middle-income buyers.

Seventy area real estate agents, credit and mortgage agencies, nonprofit housing-development groups and offices of the Department of Housing and Community Development set up booths and dispensed advice.

"They did my credit check and found that there was a lot of stuff on there," said Stephanie Wiggins, 39, who wanted to sell her home in Govans and buy another in West Baltimore. She learned that she will have to improve her credit rating to do so.

The fair, which drew about 5,000 people, was sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation to encourage minority and low- and moderate-income Baltimoreans to buy houses in the city.

Experts gave advice on subjects including calculating interest rates and cleaning up a bad credit history, and a congressman gave the crowd a pep talk.

"Just listen up," Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, declared to shouts of agreement. "Take the first step. This is no dress rehearsal. This is real life. I'm begging you, be aggressive. Bug people until you get into your homes."

Cummings, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and city Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III handed out money to five prospective buyers -- winners of an essay contest on "what owning a home means to me." The prize for each was a check for $4,000, good only toward the closing costs in buying a home in the city.

The contest received 370 entries.

According to 1990 Census Bureau data, 48.6 percent of Baltimore families own houses, compared with the national average of 65.7 percent.

Baltimore's home ownership rate is even lower for blacks, 37.7 percent, and Hispanics, 44.8 percent.

The fair was the first in Baltimore sponsored by Fannie Mae -- the Federal National Mortgage Association -- which has held similar fairs in a dozen other cities.

Pub Date: 9/28/97

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad