The National American Indian Housing Council is pressing Fannie Mae to foster more mortgage lending on reservations.

Members of the advocacy group met with Fannie's Housing Impact Advisory Council last week.

In a press release, the group said redlining has given Indians Third World housing conditions. Forty percent of tribal housing is considered substandard, six times the percentage among the general population, the group said.

Lenders "may not be aware of how large a potential (market) we're talking about," said Christopher D. Boesen, executive director of the group. He said the market on reservations and elsewhere in what he termed "Indian country" is like "a city the size of San Antonio, Tex., without any banks."

Fannie Mae has invested $54 million in loans for trust lands over the last three years, said Barry Zigas, executive director for its national housing impact division. Lending "has increased markedly in the last three years because of our engagement in the field," he added.

The Indian council said only 91 conventional mortgages were made in Indian country between 1992 and 1996. The Native American community needs 200,000 housing unit, the advocacy group said.

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