M&T Bank rolls out mortgage subsidy program for underserved communities

By Kevin Zimmerman

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Buffalo-based M&T Bank is launching a new mortgage subsidy program that allows qualifying homebuyers who are purchasing or refinancing properties in targeted neighborhoods within several counties throughout the Northeast — including towns in Fairfield and Westchester counties — as much as $18,750.

The program is available for purchasing or refinancing properties in U.S. Census tracts where more than 50 percent of residents are African-American and/or Hispanic. Scott Vahue, senior vice president for mortgage lending at M&T, said the program was available to qualified customers in the Fairfield municipalities of Bridgeport, Danbury, Norwalk, Stamford and Stratford. In addition, eligible census tracts in Westchester are located in Bedford, Mount Kisco, Ossining, Peekskill, Port Chester, the Mount Pleasant-Harrison-Elmsford area, and the Yonkers-Mount Vernon-New Rochelle area.

The program is also available in several other New York counties, as well as a number of counties in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

“You can also live just outside the eligible towns,” Vahue said. “Just because you’re not technically within a given city’s limits doesn’t mean that we can’t help.”

The subsidy program can assist qualified buyers in a variety of ways, including:

  • Contributing toward the down payment to purchase a house.
  • Buying down the interest rate of the loan.
  • Paying closing costs such as: mortgage insurance, recording fees, mortgage tax, appraisal fees, credit report fees, title insurance, title search fees, home inspections, counseling fees, tax and insurance escrow reserves and other costs.

Vahue explained that the new program “came with the territory” when M&T acquired Hudson City Bancorp. (That cash-and-stock deal, originally valued at $3.7 billion when it was signed in 2012, had grown in value to a reported $5.5 billion when it was finally concluded in 2015.) When the Federal Reserve Board approved the acquisition, it said it expected M&T “to fulfill all outstanding obligations of [Hudson City] under applicable law and the consent order.”

The consent order, issued by the Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was created to address perceived discriminatory shortfalls in Hudson City’s lending practices; the agencies had accused Hudson City of “redlining” black and Hispanic neighborhoods, where it significantly lagged in granting loans when compared to other lenders.

M&T took on Hudson City’s $33 million in fair-lending and community-reinvestment obligations. Currently the bank has about $25 million to spend, Vahue said.

“We’re a little different than Hudson City,” he said, “in that we have ‘street’ loan officers, who work regularly with realtors, builders and the like and can spread the word within their spheres of influence. We’re also doing a fair amount of radio and print advertising to get the word out.”

The bank has already received about 100 applications, Vahue said, with the average amount at around $10,000.

“We’ve been established in Westchester County for a while now, but we’re still a little new to Fairfield,” he said. M&T currently has branches and ATMs in Bethel, Monroe, Brookfield, Ossining and Elmsford.

“There are other subsidy offers out there for a variety of customers,” he added, “but we believe that we hit or exceed our targets in every one of those markets.”

As of June 30, M&T had assets of $123.8 billion. It has more than 800 domestic banking offices, more than 1,600 ATMs and more than 17,000 employees.

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