A half dozen Maryland and Virginia banks that have acquired District banks have fallen far short of making the investments they promised in the city's economically depressed neighborhoods, according to D.C. Banking Superintendent Edward D. Irons, who released a study yesterday documenting the banks' lending.

The 10-page report, which was delivered to top D.C. government officials, shows that the amount of money invested in housing in each city ward was lowest in those wards where the percentage of blacks and other minorities was highest. Between 1987 and 1989, the six banks lent an average of $6,652 per acre in the city's predominantly black wards and lent an average of $60,000 per acre in the city's predominantly white ward, the report said. Some of that differential is accounted for by higher home prices in the predominantly white ward.

"We are not making judgments here," Irons said of the study. "We are simply trying to show what happened. The numbers speak for themselves."

When the banks entered the District, they promised to invest in the city's economically depressed areas by making all types of loans to those neighborhoods. Irons's study, however, documents only mortgage loans the banks have made because the banks would not provide data about their other lending activities.

Irons said he believes the mortgage lending figures reflect the lack of overall lending in the targeted areas. But bank officials said yesterday they disagree.

The regional banks in question are Crestar Bank, Signet Bank, American Security Bank, Citizens Bank of Washington, Sovran/D.C. National and Dominion Bank of Washington. Each of these institutions was given permission to do business in the District in exchange for commitments that they would invest in the city's "under-served" neighborhoods, those areas defined by the D.C. government as economically depressed and lacking financial services.

Last October, at a D.C. Council public hearing to determine whether the banks had met their goals, officials from each of the institutions testified that they had far exceeded their lending commitments, which included $35 million from American Security, $10 million from Crestar, $3 million from Dominion, $15 million from Citizens, $10 million from Signet and $10 million from Sovran -- for a total commitment of $83 million.

At the hearing, American Security Bank, for example, testified that it has lent more than seven times its commitment in under-served areas since it was acquired by MNC Corp., the parent of Maryland National Bank. Crestar also said it has provided $7 million more than promised.

Irons's study shows that in the two-year period following the enactment of the banking legislation, the six institutions invested a total of $57 million in mortgages in under-served areas, or only 6 percent of their $955 million investment into housing in the District.

"This would suggest that {the banks} have not vigorously pursued the objectives of the banking act as they said in October," Irons said. "It's true that mortgages are only one component of community development, but it's probably the major one."

Robert Pincus, president of Sovran/D.C. National, said yesterday that he takes exception to the report's conclusions. "Our loans are primarily in the form of commercial and small business loans and refinancing loans," he said. "Sovran/D.C. National already has invested $50 million in under-served areas."

Vicky Tassan, spokeswoman for American Security Bank, said she also doubted the report's findings. "I find it hard to believe at this point, knowing how much the area banks are involved with community reinvestment activities," she said.

None of the bank officials has seen the study. Representatives from the other banks declined to comment until they had read it.

However, all of the banks emphasized that they have lived up to the District's law, which is modeled on the federal Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. The federal act does not require levels of investment, but it says that financial institutions have "an affirmative obligation" to meet the credit needs of all customers in their market areas, including those with low incomes.

The D.C. Council, under the direction of Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), required the specific commitments to ensure that all District neighborhoods would benefit when local community banks merged with larger out-of-state institutions. Jarvis also has said that she hoped the commitments, which were mandated by the D.C. Interstate Banking Act of 1985, would help rebuild some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Irons has no authority to force any banks that have not lived up to their lending commitments to do so. He has been seeking such powers for the past year.

Irons said the difference between what the banks say they've accomplished and what his study shows could be accounted for by other types of lending. But he said he has repeatedly asked the institutions to provide him with documentation of that lending and they have refused.

"Mortgage lending is the only lending that's available from the public record," he said. "It's all we had to go on. If they want to show what they've done and prove us wrong, we welcome that."

But he added that he believed the banks' mortgage lending "is a fairly accurate proxy for what they've been doing in making other kinds of loans."

"If {the bank is} not making mortgages," Irons said, it is "probably not doing much else."

The study did not address the issue of rejection of mortgage loan applications because that data is not available. It is not clear whether the banks turned away prospective borrowers in the under-served areas.

The aggregate data is not broken down by institution because, Irons said, he did not want to point his finger at any one bank. Instead, he said he wanted to present a picture of what all six banks have done.

According to the study, the banks made 21 loans for $3.8 million in the under-served area of Ward 7, the home of Mayor Marion Barry and Council member H.R. Crawford, a Democrat. They made three loans for $2.1 million in under-served area of Ward 4, which is the home of Jarvis, Del. Walter F. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) and Council members Hilda M. Mason (Statehood-At Large) and William P. Lightfoot (Ind.-At Large).

In comparison, Ward 3, which has the highest percentage of white residents, received the largest number of loans -- 167 -- for a total investment of $193.5 million.

According to the study, the banks made a total of 153 mortgage loans in under-served areas for a total of $57.2 million. They made 610 loans to other areas of the city, for a total of $898.3 million. The six banks still have about a year to meet the mandated goals.

Irons said he hopes the study will prompt the banks "to live up to the expectations of the law." He said he plans to release similar studies annually and will release data on the performance of individual institutions in the coming weeks.