Miami, FL–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – BUSINESS WIRE)–September 15, 2005–Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM) is teaming up with Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Johnson Development Corporation (JDC), to kick-off a new phase in their groundbreaking commitment to increase homeownership in the nation’s underserved communities, and celebrate the grand opening of two new home loan centers and a loan processing center in Miami, in a press conference at 11 a.m. EST today.
For the first time in history, Johnson’s dedication to improving the quality of life for families in urban areas is expanding beyond African Americans to bring home ownership to members of the Hispanic and Asian communities. In addition to opening new home loan centers in urban neighborhoods nationwide, Washington Mutual and JDC continue their mission to help people in these communities build wealth, achieve their financial goals and realize the dream of home ownership through the introduction of a free, four-part financial education and credit-building program, Solid Start(TM).
The innovative Solid Start program, available in English and Spanish, takes 12 to 18 months to complete and pairs perspective homeowners with a Washington Mutual home loan consultant who guides them through courses on banking basics, home buying education, purchasing a home and loan maintenance. Upon completion of the comprehensive and individualized coursework, the prospective homebuyer is expected to be in a good position to be approved for their first home loan.
As part of the special grand opening and Solid Start launch announcements today, Thursday, September 15, at 11 a.m. EST, Johnson, Tony Meola, Washington Mutual’s executive vice president for home lending, and local city officials and housing leaders will appear at the Hialeah home loan center located at 635 West 49th Street in Hialeah, Fla. JDC and Washington Mutual executives will discuss their unique partnership at the day-long event, which will also include a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a community open house.
Today’s event will mark the grand opening of two Greater Miami home loan centers and a loan processing center. In addition to the Hialeah home loan center and loan processing center, a new home loan center located in Miami Gardens at 4676 NW 183rd in Opa Locka, Fla., also celebrates its grand opening today. A third home loan center is scheduled to open by the end of 2005 in Coral Way at 2750 SW 22nd Street.
Beginning in 2003, Washington Mutual and JDC have opened 25 home loan centers together in New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Houston and, today, Miami. This year, two more home loan centers will open in Coral Way and Newark, N.J.
“The Johnson Development Corporation is excited to be part of the Greater Miami community and to share our passion for educating people about how they can become homeowners,” Johnson said. “This partnership could not be successful without Washington Mutual’s commitment to put home loan centers in the communities that need them most.”
Johnson said the joint effort is also about building communities. “This is one of three JDC/Washington Mutual home loan centers which will be located in Greater Miami and we are proud to open them in such diverse neighborhoods.” He added, “Economic growth is the key to solving many problems faced by minority community residents, and by joining forces with Washington Mutual, we hope to help rebuild urban communities, stimulate local economies, and bring much needed services to residents.”
“Washington Mutual and JDC share a commitment to address the financial needs of consumers and small-business owners of diverse ethnic backgrounds, as well as those in the low- to moderate-income population,” said Meola. “Together, I know that we will develop long-term relationships that will bring new opportunity and positive change to our communities.”
For more than 100 years, Washington Mutual has helped stabilize neighborhoods to make them better places to live, work and raise families. This commitment to urban America includes affordable lending programs and products that increase accessibility, while furthering the company’s expansion into urban areas with new home loan centers. The home loan center’s staff will:
— Be hired from the local community;
— Work with non-profits and government agencies to develop programs to benefit local residents;
— Offer financial education and credit building support through the free, four-part Solid Start(TM) program, including sections on banking basics, home buying education, purchasing a home and loan maintenance;
— Offer a set of products to local residents to increase home ownership opportunities;
— Be supported by co-branded, multi-lingual marketing materials and joint advertising campaigns developed to increase awareness of home ownership opportunities and foster trust and understanding in local communities.
The new home loan centers aim to put potential homeowners at ease with a diverse and friendly staff. Loan consultants will offer highly personalized service by explaining the flexible and affordable options available to clients while guiding them through the process of buying a home.
About Johnson Development Corporation
JDC, a company formed in 1994 by Johnson, is comprised of five separate companies, each functioning independently to serve as a business stimulus, foster local economic growth and create financial empowerment in long neglected minority urban and suburban neighborhoods. JDC develops entertainment complexes, restaurants and retail centers. The development projects provide jobs and employ local minority contractors in the communities in which they operate.
About Washington Mutual
With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and commercial clients. At June 30, 2005, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $323.53 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,400 retail banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual’s press releases are available at http://www.wamunewsroom.com.