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GSEs Affirm Commitment to Equitable Housing Access Nationwide

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has released Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's (the GSEs) Equitable Housing Finance Plans for 2022-2024. These plans were designed to complement the initiatives outlined in FHFA's Strategic Plan: Fiscal Years 2022–2026 that promotes the GSEs' safety and soundness, and foster housing finance markets that provide equitable access to affordable and sustainable housing.

“The Equitable Housing Finance Plans represent a commitment to sustainable approaches that will meaningfully address the racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership and wealth that have persisted for generations," said FHFA Acting Director Sandra L. Thompson. “We look forward to working with the Enterprises, lenders, and other housing industry participants to further develop the ideas described in these plans."

The FHFA Strategic Plan was drafted as a “transparent roadmap” that to guide the agency in its role as regulator of the Federal Home Loan Bank System, and as regulator and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Strategic Plan names three major objectives that aim to guide the agency in its business: to secure the regulated entities' safety and soundness; foster housing finance markets that promote equitable access to affordable and sustainable housing; and to responsibly steward the FHFA's infrastructure.

The 2022-2024 Plan activities, which will be updated annually, addresses barriers experienced by renters, prospective homeowners, and current homeowners, including:

  • Consumer education initiatives for renters and homeowners;
  • Credit reporting to help tenants build credit profiles and enable better access to financial services;
  • Expanding counseling services to support housing stability;
  • Deploying technology to improve access to sustainable credit and fair home appraisals; and
  • Special Purpose Credit Programs to address barriers to sustainable homeownership.

“Freddie Mac’s Equitable Housing Finance Plan lays out meaningful actions designed to help make home possible and sustainable for more renters, buyers and homeowners, particularly in traditionally underserved communities,” said Michael DeVito, CEO of Freddie Mac. “Our multi-pronged approach reinforces Freddie Mac’s commitment to working across the housing industry to support opportunities for more Black and Latino families to access the American Dream. We are pleased to report that this work is already underway.”

Additionally, the FHFA has created a pilot transparency framework for the GSEs to accompany these plans. This framework requires both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to publish and maintain a list of pilots and test-and-learn activities on its public website. The framework will provide accountability in determining whether such activities are working to address the disparities identified in the Equitable Housing Finance Plans.

“Our Equitable Housing Finance Plan lays the groundwork to meaningfully address housing barriers faced by Black renters and homeowners,” said David C. Benson, President and Interim CEO of Fannie Mae. “We want to knock down these barriers, one by one, doing our part to undo the legacy of discriminatory practices that perpetuate racial housing gaps in America. The Plan is a solid step toward this goal and a milestone in our work to make housing stronger, fairer, and more sustainable for the people and communities we serve.”

Pilot programs and other plan activities are subject to further development and refinement by the GSEs, as well as FHFA's review and oversight of any risks to, or impacts on, safety and soundness.

“NAR applauds the FHFA’s long-term plan to bring historically underserved groups into homeownership through innovative equity solutions,” said National Association of Realtors (NAR) President Leslie Rouda Smith. “The homeownership gap is a result of more than a century of problematic practices and will take years of refinement, application, and tenacity to resolve. NAR looks forward to these plans playing a key role in closing the homeownership gap and commends Director Thompson for taking this bold action. Homeownership is a centerpiece of the American dream, and the GSEs play an important role in achieving that dream.”

Bob Broeksmit, CMB, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), added, “The path to sustainable homeownership often starts with renting. MBA appreciates the GSEs’ emphasis on enhancing existing products and developing offerings to encourage the rehabilitation and creation of new multifamily rental housing. Addressing stubbornly low rental housing supply levels, and helping renters manage security deposits and build a payment history, are key areas to address that can facilitate future homeownership.”

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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