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Tribal POINT Housing Partnership to close

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MCLEAN, Va. - One casualty of the unexpected closing of Capital One Financial Corp.'s wholesale mortgage company in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis is its American Indian mortgage program, Tribal POINT Housing Partnership.

A source at the tribal unit of GreenPoint Mortgage confirmed that Tribal POINT has stopped funding loans on tribal homelands and will close along with the entire wholesale unit of GreenPoint, which is owned by Capital One.

A call to the program manager to ascertain volumes of loans done through the program to date was not returned at press time.

According to GreenPoint's Web site, Tribal POINT closed loans to American Indians on trust land through three separate programs: T-POINT Plus, a private mortgage; the Department of Housing and Urban Development's section 184 guaranteed Indian mortgage; and the Rural Housing Service's loan programs, which are open to Indians.

The T-POINT Plus was a GreenPoint-only loan ''available to Native American homebuyers who are purchasing or refinancing a home on federally restricted trust lands or tribally restricted land.'' There was no prepayment penalty associated with the loan, which used modified Fannie Mae (government agency) underwriting guidelines and was available for single-family attached and detached homes, condominiums, and two- and four-family units.

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The source said there has been some discussion about continuing the program in another venue but that it was closing for now along with the rest of GreenPoint.

Indian Country Today reported on the startup of the unit in 2003 under CeAnn Kelly, a Chickasaw tribal member. The unit was based in Houston at the time and worked through GreenPoint's network of mortgage brokers.

GreenPoint Mortgage, based in Novato, Calif., was one of the top 20 mortgage firms in the United States and its abrupt closing has been perhaps the largest casualty to date of the mortgage crisis.

Ironically, GreenPoint is not a subprime lender but rather an ''alt-A'' specialist. Alt-A lending is generally to a better credit class of borrowers than the subprime ones that have triggered the latest crisis.

Capital One acquired GreenPoint in 2006 when it bought its then-parent, North Fork Bancorporation of New York state. This is shaping up to be a bad deal for the company, which is well-known for its ''What's in your wallet?'' credit cards. The closure will cost them $680 million.

Thirty-one GreenPoint offices will be closed in 19 states, and 1,900 employees fired, according to Capital One.