Firms Offer Help in Aftermath of Hurricanes

Responding to the immediate need of hurricane victims who need housing, a diverse group of companies are continuing to find ways to help consumers in their time of need.

Homebuilder Jim Walter Homes is offering homeowners who sustained hurricane damage assistance with no payments for six months for qualified buyers, along with a 5% discount on a new home.

"This was an unusually destructive hurricane season. Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne all ran right through our home state and affected homeowners throughout our market area," said JWH president Lawrence S. Comegys.

"Six months without payments can go a long way toward helping families get back on their feet after a loss. We hope these opportunities will help people in the affected areas get into safe and secure housing quickly and affordably."

Until the end of 2004, qualified JWH buyers who sustained hurricane damage can choose to have no payments for six months with builder financing. Further, all customers who sustained hurricane damage can qualify for a 5% discount on the price of nearly all new JWH models. The company offers more than 30 homes in the $55,000 to $120,000 range.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. is offering $150 million in below-market interest rate loans to individuals and small business owners plus $250,000 in assistance grants for the most financially distressed victims of the flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ivan.

"PNC and our 23,500 employees have a tradition of helping our communities where we do business during times of need," said James E. Rohr, chairman and chief executive officer of PNC. "Although the full extent of the damage is not yet known, it is clear that our friends and neighbors will need our ongoing support so that these communities can recover and thrive in the future."

PNC established the PNC Bank Flood Relief Loan program and related recovery assistance grants for low- and moderate-income people in response to those in Pennsylvania and neighboring areas who suffered damage to property and possessions from flooding. Recognizing the urgency among flood victims for rapid access to financial support, PNC also has committed to escalate its loan application process to respond within 24 hours so that funds are available as soon as possible.

The Flood Relief Loan Program for individuals includes home-equity installment loans with a fixed interest rate of 3.99% and fees waived. Bank of America has reopened 10 of its banking centers in the Florida Panhandle that were closed as a result of Hurricane Ivan, and has instituted its disaster relief programs to assist customers in the area.

Under the program, Bank of America customers affected by Hurricane Ivan can borrow from $5,000 to $25,000 at preferential pricing below the current rate and incur no fees or points with a special Bank of America home-equity loan program. They can increase their existing Bank of America home-equity line of credit up to $25,000. Small businesses can enjoy similar benefits on both business and personal loans.

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