ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., a national leader in expanding homeownership across America, today announced an extension of its We House America(R) initiative to fund $1 trillion in home loans to minorities and lower-income borrowers and communities through 2010. "The $1 Trillion We House America Challenge, expanded from $600 billion announced in 2003, embodies Countrywide's long-standing commitment to lead the mortgage industry in closing the homeownership gap for minority and lower-income families and communities," said Countrywide Financial Corporation Chairman and CEO Angelo Mozilo, who announced the initiative at the International Builders' Show in Orlando. "For several years now, Countrywide has been a leading lender to minorities and lower-income households," Mozilo said. "I am proud of our lending record and pleased to announce the expansion of our lending commitment to $1 trillion. The We House America program has already placed 2.4 million families into homes, and we expect to nearly triple that number by 2010." To help reach the $1 trillion funding goal, Countrywide will build on its existing comprehensive programs and policies that have made it the industry leader. The company will continue to develop innovative programs emphasizing non-traditional lending criteria, thus helping to address challenges Mozilo has made to the industry, such as calling for improved underwriting systems that eliminate the over-reliance on traditional credit scores that can mask a borrower's true credit-worthiness. Countrywide is already responding to this challenge with the launch last year of its successful Optimum Loan program. That program addresses major obstacles for hard-to-qualify borrowers, such as allowing for non-occupant co-borrowers, other secondary income, and pooled funds for down payments. The company is also increasing its support for financial literacy programs. Expanded access to high quality financial literacy training can alleviate one of the chief obstacles to homeownership, a lack of knowledge and understanding of credit and financial responsibility. The program will be announced next week at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington D.C. "To ensure that this objective is achieved, we intend to expand upon our existing partnerships with specific community groups," Mozilo said. "We have also called upon one of our esteemed directors, the Honorable Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and a former mayor of San Antonio. Henry will put to use his long and respected experience as an advocate for affordable housing who understands the benefits to communities of homeownership. He has graciously agreed to lend his support and expertise to this effort with the goal of assuring Countrywide's continued leadership in innovative, responsible and flexible mortgage products." Secretary Cisneros said of the initiative, "Countrywide's $1 trillion commitment is very tangible proof of this company's commitment to fair, affordable and responsible lending. This company is leading the industry in closing the homeownership gap through ambitious lending commitments, innovative programs, and a strong corporate culture that constantly looks for ways to improve. This is an exciting initiative for Countrywide and I am looking forward to being part of this important effort." Countrywide formalized its commitment to affordable lending more than a decade ago by launching We House America, an initiative to provide increased homeownership opportunities for all Americans. The previous commitment covered the years of 2001 through 2010 and has provided $341 billion of home loans as of December 31, 2004. The company is now extending the goal to $1 trillion by 2010. About Countrywide Financial Corporation Founded in 1969, Countrywide Financial Corporation is a member of the S&P 500 and Fortune 500. Through its family of companies, Countrywide provides mortgage banking and diversified financial services in domestic and international markets. Mortgage banking businesses include loan production and servicing principally through Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., which originates, purchases, securitizes, sells, and services residential loans. Also included in Countrywide's mortgage banking segment is the LandSafe group of companies that provide loan closing services. Diversified financial services encompass capital markets, banking, insurance, and global, largely through the activities of Countrywide Capital Markets, a mortgage-related investment banker; Countrywide Bank, a division of Treasury Bank, NA, a banking entity offering customers CDs, money market accounts, and home loan products; Balboa Life & Casualty Group, whose companies are national providers of property, liability, and life insurance; Balboa Reinsurance, a captive mortgage reinsurance company; and Global Home Loans, a U.K. mortgage banking joint venture in which Countrywide holds a majority interest. For more information about the Company, visit Countrywide's website at http://www.countrywide.com.
SOURCE Countrywide Financial Corporation