IN 10 MONTHS as chairman, Robert H. McKinney has made impressive changes at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which regulates and supervises the more than 6,000 savings and loan associations around the country. He has encouraged those financial institutions to make considerably more mortgage loans in older neighborhoods, fulfilling a pledge made at his Senate confirmation hearings to try to eliminate discrimination in mortgage lending - known as redlining. Mr. McKinney has also announced that the bank board will take the unprecedented step of providing about $10 billion in mortgage moeny during the next few years to communities that want to give an extra boost to fixing up run-down neighborhoods.
One unexpected byproduct of Mr. McKinney's effort to increase lending has been a decline in the number of mortgages that smaller savings and loan associations - particularly minority-controlled ones - are making. They are losing business to the larger financial institutions now lending mortgage and rehabilitation money [WORD ILLEGIBLE]-city residents. This is painful. It was the minority-controlled savings and loans that first showed those larger institutions that inner-city lending could be a sound business venture. In Washington, for example, Independence Federal and Community Federal provided mortgages for Anacostia, Fort Lincoln, Adams Morgan and Shaw during the years when other financial institutions looked the other way. But those two associations are lending substantially less these days, and many of their counterparts around the country are facing similar situations.
Mr. McKinney and the bank boars should give special attention to helping these smaller, minority-controlled savings and loan associations. They might, for example, encourage local governments to put their federal grant money into financial institutions with faithful records of community involvement. Easing this problem will require disciplined policies and an awareness of community sentiment. Mr. McKinney is providing both.