Banks reach out for borrowers

June 12, 1994|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

Sixteen area banks will spend a day next weekend trying to reach the least likely of customers -- those with poor credit, cash shortages and a history of being turned down for loans.

A local, nonprofit housing advocacy group expects to link hundreds of potential homebuyers and others seeking home improvement or business loans with lenders during a bank fair Saturday. The banks offer special products and services to low-and moderate-income families.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which opened a Maryland chapter more than a year ago, has organized its first such fair in the state. It's modeled after similar fairs the group puts together each year in 20 cities, including Washington.

"The demand is obviously out there," said Anne Roma, bank fair coordinator. "It's a matter of letting people know about their options."

For instance, she said, people paying $250 to $350 monthly in rent often don't realize they could afford to buy a home. Mortgage lenders also might be able to offer loans to borrowers who've been turned down in the past.

The banks will set up booths to answer questions, offer information about loan programs and make appointments for customers to apply for loans, she said.

Many programs ease requirements for borrowers in lower-income brackets. Some offer more flexibility in credit and income qualifications, lower closing costs or below-market interest rates.

The fair is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. at Frederick Douglass High School, across from Mondawmin Mall.

Sponsors -- the Bank of Baltimore, Chase Manhattan Bank and NationsBank -- have planned seminars including "Credit Repair," How to Buy a House," "What Happens When Your Loan Hits the Bank," "Home Improvement Loans" and "Small Business Loans."

Since opening in Baltimore, Maryland ACORN has formed community groups in the eastern and western sections of the city. The grass-roots group also started two tenant unions that have successfully fought for hundreds of repairs and improvements in city public housing projects.

ACORN has more than 400 low- and moderate-income members throughout the city and surrounding counties who work on housing, banking, insurance and education issues and on neighborhood improvements. Nationally, ACORN has more than 100,000 members.

For more information, call ACORN at 685-9000.

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