Building Hope In Los Angeles

Chase Manhattan Bank leads charge to start home ownership initiative

Owning a home complete with white picket fence, backyard and swimming pool has long been the crux of the American Dream, although for many, it remains a distant longing. But a recent $50 million partnership between Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp., the Los Angeles Urban League and Operation Hope, a community-based organization dedicated to urban economic empowerment, may now make that dream a reality for many in the Los Angeles inner city.

In a three-pronged attack, Chase will provide the financing, the Urban League will help supply eligible candidates from its computer database and Operation Hope will provide the training and education necessary to make the initiative work. For the moment, the three organizations will focus their efforts on the Los Angeles area. And to date, there are no plans to develop the plan nationally.

The LA Urban League and Operation Hope will share equally in a grant of approximately $60,000 provided by Chase Manhattan for actually managing the program and providing seminars, workshops and training, according to John Bryant, president of Operation Hope.

LA Urban League President John Mack says the partners will co-host a series of free workshops and seminars in the coming months to identify low- to moderate-income individuals for home loans. Chase has committed $50 million toward the venture, and plans to close 500 loans over the next two years.

“Traditionally, home ownership has been an elusive and evasive dream and all too often a nightmare for many African Americans, in part because of the rigid standards of major conventional financial institutions,” says Mack. “Chase has made a commitment to be more flexible in the way they evaluate prospects for home loans, looking at financial background and potential.”

Pazel Jackson, senior vice president in the Community Development Group at Chase, is responsible for helping to structure the partnership and says the program is a direct result of last year’s merger between Chase Manhattan and Chemical banks. When the new Chase emerged, so did a commitment to invest $18. 1 billion over the next five years in low- and moderate-income communities.

“We feel very fortunate to work as partners with the Urban League and Operation Hope,” Jackson says. “Our partnership is an enormous benefit to us because it simplifies the recruitment process.” With the Urban League recruiting candidates, Operation Hope will provide economic education, technical assistance and credit counseling to candidates before submitting loan applications to Chase. Since 1992, Operation Hope has worked with more than 40 financial institutions to fund $13 million in home loans.

“Our job is to prepare potential buyers, inspire them, educate them, help resolve their credit issues and help package them for financing,” says Bryant. “You can’t just come into a community, offer a mortgage or loan to someone and expect immediate success. The urban market has been starved for capital access and education for so long that making a difference will require nurturing and attention,” he adds.

For more on the Urban League Home ownership program, call 213-299-9660.

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