WASHINGTON -- The Department of Housing and Urban Development has decided once again to move forward with auctions of more than $12 billion of federally insured 40-year multifamily housing loans, with plans to begin the loan sales in mid-January, a HUD official said yesterday.

Several months ago, the department set Sept. 23, 1991, as the date for the first sale, but it postponed that auction indefinitely because of unspecified concerns about the loan process.

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