Bank to offer $40 million in discount housing loans

March 04, 1995|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

Low-interest mortgages and home-improvement loans for some 300 low- to moderate-income families will be available through an alliance announced yesterday by First Fidelity Bank and a Baltimore-based coalition of community and advocacy groups.

As part of the second major partnership the Maryland Alliance for Responsible Investment has formed with a local bank since 1986, First Fidelity agreed to invest $40 million in home purchase, home improvement and housing development loans.

New Jersey-based First Fidelity, which purchased the parent of rTC the Bank of Baltimore last year, will make loans available over three years "to put individuals and families in clean, safe, affordable homes," Joseph A. Cicero, bank vice chairman, said yesterday at a news conference in Harlem Park in West Baltimore.

The bank has pledged $20 million for mortgages and home improvement loans and another $20 million for loans to nonprofit developers of affordable for-sale and rental housing. An additional $300,000 in grants will be awarded to groups in the 24-member MARI coalition to offer counseling and guidance to homebuyers.

"As important as the partnership is the commitment to Baltimore City and the community-based organizations who make it their business to preserve and improve the quality of life for residents," said Barbara Aylesworth, MARI vice president.

She said the agreement is especially significant in light of federal budget cuts approved two weeks ago by a House subcommittee in which city public housing would lose at least $40 million in housing and community development funds.

MARI has been meeting with First Fidelity officials and leading tours of city neighborhoods for the past eight months in hopes of building upon a relationship with the Bank of Baltimore dating back to 1989.

MARI had developed a program with the Bank of Baltimore six years ago that has made combination purchase and rehabilitation loans to about 25 renters a year.

The new lending program with First Fidelity represents the biggest single commitment by a local bank since MARI formed an alliance with Maryland National Bank in 1986.

Over nine years, Maryland National and successor NationsBank have approved 828 residential mortgage loans, totaling $43 million, for low- and moderate-income buyers. The bank has made $35 million in loans to nonprofit housing developers.

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