Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C., has made a commitment to become a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston as it seeks regulatory approval to acquire FleetBoston Financial, Providence, R.I.Fleet National Bank is the Boston FHLBank's largest shareholder and borrower, with $508 million in stock. If BoA dropped Fleet's membership, it would force the FHLBank to downsize and significantly reduce the funding for its affordable housing program. The FHLBank did not respond to a request for comment. "We will be retaining membership in the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston," Fleet chairman and chief executive Charles Gifford says in a letter to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. "Both Fleet and Bank of America understand the clear value and significant investment our memberships bring to providing affordable housing to residents in need." Rep. Frank, the ranking Democratic member on the House Financial Services Committee, has been urging BoA to increase its commitment to affordable housing in the Northeast. The Federal Reserve Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the BoA/Fleet merger Jan. 14 in Boston.

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