Fort Wayne National Bank, Ind., has found a new way to get community reinvestment credit.

The $1.2 billion-asset bank is making no-money-down mortgages to police officers who agree to buy a house in low- to moderate-income parts of the city.

"We think policemen are pretty good bets," said Bruce Wright, Fort Wayne's CRA officer.

The first loan under the Home Ownership for Police Program was made last week. Nine other applications are pending.

Crime-Fighting Factor

The bank has teamed up with the City of Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Neighborhood Housing Partnership. The program was created by the three groups through a series of meetings on how to fight crime.

The city gives the officers a marked police car to take home and park in a visible area. The partnership does much of the prep work, such as finding homes for sale and interested police officers.

Under the program, officers receive up to 100% financing on housing loans. There are 330 police officers in Fort Wayne, which has a population of 175,000.

Mr. Wright said getting police to live in low- and moderate-income areas will cut down on crime, making the community a better place to live.

"For the neighborhood to succeed, it needs police," Mr. Wright said.

Strong Work Ethic

The plan won't hurt the bank's Community Reinvestment Act rating, either. "This program embodies everything CRA asks banks to do," Mr. Wright said.

It's a good investment, he said, because banks get credit while making new loans and improving the area. Police are especially good loan risks because they have a strong work ethic, he said.

In announcing the program, Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke Said: "We wanted to find a way to further our community policing goals of building connections between officers and citizens."

The bank is committed to lending $500,000 for now, which Mr. Wright said would be replenished if the program goes well. By the year end, Mr. Wright expects the bank to have made 10 to 12 loans in the program.

Last week, Amye Ford, a single mother and a 13-year veteran of the police department, became the first homeowner in the program.

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