Fleet Financial Group president Robert J. Higgins said Wednesday that his bank is targeting 250,000 low-income residents for home- equity loans.

Fleet plans to send direct mail solicitations to the homeowners nearly next year, Mr. Higgins said at a symposium on community development that the bank is sponsoring here. The program is one of the largest marketing campaigns ever to focus exclusively on low-income consumers.

Mr. Higgins said the bank is expects higher-than-average rejection rates but is willing to incur this public relations risk in offering a product to consumers normally unable to receive home equity loans.

Also in 1998, Fleet will invest $50 million in new low-income housing tax credits, spend $300,000 on rural economic development programs in the Northeast, use $200,000 to offer first-time homebuyer education programs, and devote an extra $1 million to sponsoring community reinvestment programs, Mr. Higgins said.

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