WASHINGTON - A national coalition of banking and community leaders has honored six institutions for finding unusual ways to meet the reinvestment needs of disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Social Compact, which considered more than 7,000 applications from institutions across the country, gave the commercial bank-corporate headquarters award to National Westminster Bancorp and Neighborhood Housing Services of Manhattan for transforming 54 abandoned properties in New York into affordable housing.

Wachovia Bank of Georgia and Neighborhood Housing Services of Savannah took top honors in the commercial bank-regional office section for helping 200 families purchase and refurbish boarded-up houses.

Roma Federal Savings Bank of Trenton, N.J., and Project Freedom won in the small thrift category for financing construction of an apartment building for the disabled.

First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Rochester, N.Y., and North East Block Club Alliance scored in the large thrift group for coordinating the redevelopment of 5.3 acres in the city.

Rancho Vista National Bank and Vista Community Clinic won the community bank award for originating $2,500 interest-free loans to finance prenatal care for 75 women. The program has a 100% repayment rate.

Finally, Social Compact recognized Principal Financial Group and the River Bend Neighborhood Association, which have brought home ownership to 800 families in Des Moines.

President Clinton praised the winners in a May 8 letter, saying they have brought "new hope and opportunity" to communities. "You are helping to bring a brighter light tomorrow for all of us," Mr. Clinton said.

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