WASHINGTON — A public interest coalition is calling on bank regulators to declare the drinking water contamination in Flint, Mich., a "disaster" and encourage lenders from around the country to extend credit to the area in order to counteract the damage.

John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said in a letter to the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Wednesday that the designation would help the area "repair and replace damaged pipes" — a cost that the city's mayor has estimated at $1.5 billion. Taylor said that some lenders will not offer home loans to the area out of concerns that the drinking water to those properties is dangerously unsafe.

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