WASHINGTON - Community reinvestment lending increased 15.2% among Financial Services Roundtable members to $77.3 billion in 1998, according to a survey by the group.

The Roundtable, which claims to represent the nation's 100 largest financial services institutions, polls members on community involvement each year. Figures for 1998 were just released.

"We deliberately didn't finish compiling it and release it while the debate [over financial reform] was going on," Roundtable president Steve Bartlett said last week. "We didn't want to make a statement pro or con regarding reinvestment."

Debate over changing the Community Reinvestment Act held up the reform legislation, which was finally signed into law Nov. 12.

The Roundtable said the $77.3 billion in lending included $40.9 billion in housing loans, $20.7 billion in commercial redevelopment, and $2.2 billion in loans to or investment in community development corporations.

The loans were part of an overall $116.9 billion in community investments made by the 56 companies responding to the Roundtable's survey. That total is up slightly from the $115 billion 60 companies reported in 1997.

Roundtable members also said they donated $420 million in 1998, up 13.5%. Of that total, $59.9 million went to community development organizations, $40.2 million to educational programs, and $34.4 million to cultural programs or organizations. Roundtable members also reported that their employees volunteered 4.6 million hours in 1998, up roughly 3% over the previous year.

- Barbara A. Rehm

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