WASHINGTON - A survey by the NeighborWorks Campaign for Home Ownership found that 40% of buyers it has assisted are paying less for shelter than they did as renters.

The campaign to provide homeownership opportunities to 10,000 low-income people was organized six months ago by Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp. a nonprofit organization founded by an act of Congress in 1978.

Banks and mortgage companies are among the 54 sponsoring organizations.

Other Findings

Organizers expect the five-year program to generate over $650 million in investments in poor communities.

The survey also found the following:

* Forty-three percent of new homeowners assisted are women who head households. Nationally, only 13% of such women could afford to buy a home.

* Fifty-seven percent of the first-time homebuyers assised have annual household incomes of less than $30,000. Nationally, only 12% of homebuyers earn less than $30,000 per household.

The NeighborWorks project involves interviewing more than 75,000 people. Not all will be chosen to become homeowners, but each receives counseling on money management and budgeting.

Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp. has rehabilitated or built more than 116,000 affordable housing units.

New Products Ahead

One of the next steps for the campaign is to create mortgage products that will give poor and minority families access to credit.

The loan products, which the group expects to be available by the winter of 1994, are being developed in conjunction with the Federal National Mortgage Association, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

NeighborWorks plans to eventually offer these products to other nonprofit organizations.

The current project has attracted the support of some of the largest banks and insurance companies in the country.

It has struck a chord with banks interested in unconventional lending, said Julia Galdo, director of communications and research for Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp.

"Banks are fishing around for new approaches," she said. They find the NeighborWorks campaign attractive, she said, because interest rates are down, the housing stock is out there, "and in the CRA world, banks need that support."

Shawmut Bank, where the Justice Department is investigating the possibility that fair-lending laws have been violated, became the latest regional partner recently, with a $ 100,000 donation

Other bank partners include Chemical Banking Corp., Citibank, and NationsBank Corp.

Other Backers

Big players in the insurance and mortgage worlds - Allstate, State Farm Insurance, Freddie Mac, and the Fannie Mae Foundation - are also campaign sponsors.

Robert Guenther, a Shawmut spokesman, said the bank has supported Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp. for about a decade. "They help cities, and that's where our customers are," he said.

The NeighborWorks campaign has exceeded its goal for this year, with $20 million invested in an initial 20 cities.

James A. Paley, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services in New Haven, Conn., said that creating more owner-occupied housing is just about the best way to improve a community.

An |Insurance Policy'

He said banks realize that community reinvestment and neighborhood stabilization go hand in hand.

Mr. Paley said that since the late 1980s there has been a major shift in the way people assess financial risk. Banks see communities as better investments than ever, he said. "We are the single best insurance policy a bank can buy."

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