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Washington Mutual and Johnson Development Corporation Bring the 'Magic' of Home Ownership to Newark
Earvin "Magic" Johnson to Introduce Education Program to Increase Home Ownership in Urban Ethnic Communities; Celebrate Grand Opening of Home Loan Center

NEWARK, N.J., Sep 28, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM) is furthering its partnership with Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Johnson Development Corporation (JDC) by kicking-off a new phase in their groundbreaking commitment to increase homeownership in the nation's underserved communities, and celebrating the grand opening of a new home loan center in Newark, N.J. 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, Wednesday, September 28 at 11 a.m. EST, Johnson; David Schneider, Washington Mutual's president of home lending; Tony Meola, Washington Mutual's executive vice president of home lending and state, city and community leaders will appear at the new Newark home loan center located at 570 Broad Street. 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 fourth Washington Mutual/JDC home loan center to open in diverse neighborhoods of New York Metro and New Jersey. In 2003, Washington Mutual and Johnson opened a home loan center and loan processing center in Harlem at 4 West 125 St., along with home loan centers in Brooklyn at 900 Fulton Ave. and in Washington Heights at 4001 Broadway.

Beginning in 2003, Washington Mutual and JDC have opened 26 home loan centers together in New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Houston, Miami and the center opening today in Newark.

"The Johnson Development Corporation is excited to be part of the Newark 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 four JDC/Washington Mutual home loan centers now located in areas of New York Metro and New Jersey and we are proud that each is located 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 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 center aims 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 www.wamunewsroom.com.

SOURCE: Washington Mutual

Washington Mutual
Missy Cousino, 312-429-3059 
713-594-9332 cell
missy.cousino@wamu.net
or
Magic Johnson Enterprise
Mark Scoggins, 310-247-2033