A pilot program aimed at the nation's estimated 6.8 million non-owners with "thin" credit files is being tested in the nation's capital, where an alliance of public and private entities have pledged $200 million to get the initiative started.Under the R-Home program, consumers who are often unable to qualify for financing under traditional underwriting guidelines or are steered toward high-price loans will be qualified using an innovative automated program powered by Anthem, First American Corp.'s alternative credit-evaluation model. CitiMortgage will buy loans generated by nonprofit and private-sector participants and sell them on the secondary market, but retain the servicing rights. Borrowers will be counseled before the purchase, and counseling will be made available afterwards if they have trouble making payments. If problems persist longer than 60 days, the Neighborhood Housing Services of America says it will repurchase the loans and work "personally and patiently" with borrowers to get them back on track. "We see this as a model of how all borrowers should be supported, not just low-income borrowers," said Mary Lee Widener, president of NHSA.

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