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Group Tries To Improve Loan Access

November 17, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Mortgage Bankers Association has established an independent research organization designed to improve access to home loans for minorities and low-income people.

``We need to be armed with the knowledge to deliver housing and mortgage credit to families and individuals who have been locked out of the American dream,″ Donald Lange, president of the bankers’ group, said Tuesday. ``It’s not only good public policy, it’s good business.″

The new organization, called the Research Institute for Housing America, will work with academic experts, regulators, consumer and community groups and the mortgage banking industry to pursue research on fair lending. Its executive director will be Stephen Hornburg, currently senior policy director for the Fannie Mae Foundation.

Attorney General Janet Reno and Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo released letters supporting the institute.

``Right now, not everyone is getting a fair deal,″ Anne Schnare, senior vice president of corporate relations for mortgage company Freddie Mac, told a news conference.

A national coalition of community groups released a study last week showing that minorities were rejected for home mortgages at a much higher rate than white applicants from 1995 through 1997. The rejection rates for minorities were reported to have risen even as a strong economy, low interest rates and easy terms allowed many families to buy homes for the first time.

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