Last week was a busy one for Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo.

On Tuesday he announced that the department's FHA mortgage-insurance program, which dates back to the 1930s, has entered the electronic age. FHA loans can now be approved through the automated loan origination system of another government-backed enterprise, Freddie Mac.

President Clinton's fiscal year 1999 budget contains a proposal to significantly expand the program, and Mr. Cuomo is spearheading the administration's campaign to rally congressional support for it.

On Thursday he announced that three mortgage lenders-Temple-Inland Mortgage Corp., Banc One Mortgage Corp., and Overton Bank and Trust-have agreed to make $1.369 billion in home loans to low- and moderate-income and minority families. The lenders will spend $6 million on programs to increase homeownership among these groups. Most of the money-$1.35 billion- will come from Temple-Inland and is said to be the largest commitment by any lender to fair-housing initiatives.

Mr. Cuomo is trying to get a 73% increase in funding for HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, which enforces the Fair Housing Act. If he gets it, the office would be authorized to spend $52 million in fiscal 1999.

On Friday, Mr. Cuomo met with 33 nonprofit and faith-based groups, including the National Council of Churches, Catholic Charities USA, and the Council of Jewish Federations, to urge them to form a partnership with his agency to revitalize communities, produce affordable housing, and reduce homelessness.

The meeting was held by HUD's new Center for Community and Interfaith Partnerships.

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