First Tennessee gives aid for home repairs

Chattanooga's biggest bank has given the city of Chattanooga $70,000 to support Chattanooga's Department of Economic & Community Development program for aiding veterans, elderly and handicapped persons make minor home repairs.

First Tennessee Bank presented the check to the city just in time for Thanksgiving earlier this week.

"Giving back to a community that has been so good to us to benefit our most vulnerable citizens is exactly the type of program First Tennessee enjoys supporting," said Jay Dale, the market president in Chattanooga for First Tennessee. "Making home improvements may seem small to most, but in these situations, the improvements can literally keep a roof over someone's head or keep condemnation from happening."

The city program has provided assistance to more than 650 citizens ensuring their ability to remain housed in safe and decent living conditions, Mayor Andy Berke said.

"During our last fiscal year, 99 homeowners received assistance in preserving their homes," Berke said, noting many of the projects were aided by Habitat for Humanity, Group Mission and World Changers, the Chattanooga Community Housing Development Corp, and Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprises.

Mortgage rates fall most in four years

U.S. long-term mortgage rates recorded the biggest drop in nearly four years this week, but remain much higher than they were a year ago.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Wednesday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.81 percent this week, down from 4.94 percent a week earlier. It was the biggest weekly drop since January 2015. But the 30-year rate was still up from 3.92 percent a year ago.

The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans fell to 4.24 percent from 4.36 percent a week ago. The rate stood at 3.32 percent a year ago.

DeVos reinstates accrediting group

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday restored federal recognition to an accrediting group that oversees dozens of for-profit colleges but was shut down by the Obama administration over allegations of lax supervision.

Her decision says the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools was found to be "substantially in compliance" in 19 of 21 areas reviewed by the Education Department. DeVos moved to reinstate the group's accrediting powers but said it must fix lingering problems within a year.

Michelle Edwards, the group's president, applauded the decision and said she looks forward to "reinvigorating" the organization for a strong future.

"In the past two years, ACICS has implemented significant reforms designed to address concerns and enhance our ability to hold schools accountable for meaningful student outcomes," Edwards said in a statement. "ACICS has set as a goal to become a leader among accreditors and I am looking forward focusing all of my energy on living up to that goal."