Texas Commerce Bank has launched a $3 billion, five-year lending program for low-income and moderate-income areas.

"We're trying to raise the bar in terms of community lending," said John L. Adams, chairman of the $20 billion-asset bank. "We set a pretty ambitious goal."

The Houston-based bank, a subsidiary of Chase Manhattan Corp., will target 15 cities throughout its home state, focusing on mortgage, home improvement, small-business, and community development lending. The bank will customize its underwriting standards for each city.

The bank also is promoting a $5,000 unsecured revolving credit for home repairs to make more funds available in communities.

The plan includes a commitment of $1.2 billion for lending in Houston and $750 million for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Community education programs and charitable contributions throughout the state also are planned, Mr. Adams said, but details are still being worked out.

The five-year program is designed to ensure Texas Commerce keeps its outstanding Community Reinvestment Act rating, Mr. Adams said.

Community groups applauded the announcement, though some said they fear the bank has set unreachable goals.

"The proof will be in the pudding," said Art Weddington, program director at the Inner City Development Corp. of Dallas. "We hope they can make those goals."

But James Reed, director of the Southern Dallas Development Corp., said he was confident the bank would succeed.

"They've been good for the community," Mr. Reed said. "This is another very positive step."

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