DES MOINES -- Norwest Mortgage Inc. has formed a fair-lending department and named Patrick A. Guillion Jr. its director.

A spokeswoman said the department would examine areas in which Norwest does banking as well as in nonbanking states. "We want to determine how we can leverage our presence in all the communities," she said.

Before joining Norwest, Mr. Guillion had worked in the affordable-housing division at Fannie Mae, most recently as a senior analyst of central cities initiatives.

Earlier, he managed the investment division of Hibernia National Bank of Texas.

Mr. Guillion said he was impressed by Norwest's commitment to minority and low- to moderate-income lending. "Because Norwest Mortgage is the largest retail mortgage lender, we have a unique opportunity to grow our base of more than 630 locations into many more underserved communities across the country," he said.

He said the department had already begun projects with nonprofit groups such as Congregations and Residents Together and Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp.

The mortgage unit said about half its loan volume last year went to minority and low- and moderate-income households and that it makes more VA and FHA loans than any other lender - $14.7 billion last year.

The formation of the new department is an outgrowth of a series of fair-lending objectives established two years ago, the spokeswoman said.

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