$3 billion mortgage program; Bank is funding dream for poorer borrowers


Baltimore is one of 15 cities that will participate in a $3 billion mortgage program funded by the Bank of America to allow low- to moderate-income borrowers to buy a house with no down payment, no application fee and no closing costs.

The program will be operated by the Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, a Boston-based affordable housing advocacy group that provides housing services, such as buyer education and individual counseling, for free.

Mortgages will have a fixed interest rate, which is currently at 7.5 percent.

The funding brings NACA's total mortgage funding pool to $3.9 billion.

"NACA will assist people through the minefield of the mortgage process," said Bruce Marks, NACA's chief executive officer.

He added that the program will help more than 100,000 people become homeowners.

Currently, NACA provides about 250 loans a month through its 20 offices nationwide -- including one in Baltimore.

"We make sure people get the best possible deal that is available with the best mortgage in a house they can afford in the long term," Marks said.

The other cities to participate in the program are Atlanta; Buffalo, N.Y.; Charlotte, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Memphis, Tenn.; Washington; Tampa, Fla.; San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; and Los Angeles, Oakland and Sacramento, Calif.

Next year, the program is to expand to New York City; Las Vegas; Phoenix; Albuquerque, N.M.; San Diego; and Little Rock, Ark.

"As Bank of America has grown and merged with other banks, we've continued to expand our NACA relationship," said Bob Johnston, senior vice president for the Charlotte, N.C.-based company's community development bank.

In 1995, the then-NationsBank agreed to provide $500 million in home mortgage loans through NACA for five years.

NationsBank merged with BankAmerica last year to create Bank of America. With $614 billion in total assets, Bank of America is the largest bank in the country with operations in 22 states and Washington.

Bank of America made more than $8 billion in home mortgage loans to low- and moderate-income families last year.

The company has pledged to make nearly $115 billion in affordable housing loans during the next decade as part of a $350 billion community development lending commitment, bank officials said.

"Bank of America has to be one of the most philanthropic banks in the country," said John B. Moore, an analyst with Wachovia Securities in Charlotte, N.C.

"It's good business, or they wouldn't do it."

Pub Date: 8/11/99

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