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 CHICAGO, Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Countrywide Funding Corp., the nation's largest mortgage lender, today announced it has doubled its community-based outreach program, to provide $2.5 billion in mortgage loans to home buyers in low-and-moderate-income neighborhoods. Unveiled at the national convention of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, the $2.5 billion commitment is with the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), and is double the previous $1.25 billion commitment made with the agency in May 1992.
 The expanded commitment is the largest affordable lending venture to date, and will be fulfilled under Countrywide's House America lending program. Launched in May 1992, House America is a community-based affordable lending program, which was specifically created to help lower income and minority borrowers qualify for home ownership. House America works with national and regional non-profit organizations, as well as local business and community leaders, to educate consumers about affordable home ownership opportunities.
 To reach potential borrowers in inner-city neighborhoods, Countrywide is making available a consumer video entitled, "A Feeling Called Home," narrated by Tony Award-winner James Earl Jones, known worldwide for his spellbinding voice and outstanding movie and television performances. Designed to educate both consumers and Countrywide's business partners, the 20-minute, documentary-style video traces three families' experiences and ultimate realization of obtaining a home loan. The free video will be available in English and Spanish from Countrywide's four production divisions, to consumers, community groups, or any other interested organization.
 Furthermore, a free, national consumer service -- the House America Counseling Center -- was launched in July to offer home-buyer education, including loan pre-qualification and assistance with personal budget plans. Consumers can call the center at 800-577-3732 from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. (PT), and speak to one of its multilingual advisors.
 "We estimate that there are approximately 29 million low-and- moderate-income households that are currently renting, which can benefit by owning a piece of their neighborhood," said Angelo R. Mozilo, president and chief executive officer of Countrywide. "The $2.5 billion commitment to provide mortgage loans, combined with our marketing efforts to make sure it is accomplished, fulfills a great social need and makes good business sense."
 "Because Countrywide exceeded its previous $1.25 billion commitment, we are fully confident of its ability to satisfy this new, increased commitment," said James Johnson, chairman, Fannie Mae. "With this announcement, Countrywide sets a good example for other lenders to help make home ownership more affordable to this important market."
 Countrywide anticipates success with its outreach program and has provisions to reach an even wider audience. The company is hiring regional Community Development Officers to increase outreach for home ownership opportunities, and to work with organizations across the nation -- with immediate emphasis in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and New York. Furthermore, additional Countrywide retail offices will be opened in low and moderate income areas.
 "America needs more outreach programs like this to revitalize our cities," said U.S. Representative Mel Reynolds, D-Chicago. "For example, Countrywide is working with the Chicago office of Neighborhood Housing Services to conduct a free home ownership seminar in November."
 Neighborhood Housing Services is a non-profit arm of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp. -- a government-sponsored "umbrella" organization for low-income housing services in 180 cities. Countrywide is also teaming up with Community Build, a non-profit organization founded by U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, to expand community-based economic development and neighborhood revitalization in South Central Los Angeles. On Oct. 30, Countrywide and Community Build will jointly host an affordable-home-ownership seminar in Los Angeles.
 Countrywide has trained more than 5,000 real estate agents, mortgage brokers and other lenders about House America, and has provided marketing materials to help them promote and explain the program to their clients. Education, publicity, and advertising, with a special focus on underserved consumers, in ongoing.
 House America is the nation's largest affordable home loan program, and features more flexible underwriting guidelines for employment, credit exceptions, higher debt ratios and no cash reserves after closing. In addition, to ensure that each loan receives every consideration for approval, no House America loan is denied without a second review. The new $2.5 billion Fannie Mae commitment officially begins on Dec. 1, 1993, and will be fulfilled within 12 months.
 Founded in 1969, Countrywide Funding Corp. originates and services single-family home loans. Countrywide employs more than 4,200 people at its Pasadena, Calif., headquarters and in more than 300 offices across the country.
 -0- 10/25/93
 /CONTACT: Laura Lippman at MBA, Catherine Zimring at MBA, Suzanne Thompson, 818-304-8479, or Janet Otsuki, 818-666-4267, all of Countrywide/

CO: Countrywide Funding Corp. ST: California IN: FIN SU:

JB-MF -- LA007 -- 6328 10/25/93 12:31 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 25, 1993

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