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Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac unveil biggest reforms since 2008 housing crash

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Federally backed home mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveiled a series of reforms each company is calling an Equitable Housing Finance Plan. Wednesday’s announcement serves as the most sweeping overhaul for either company since the housing market collapse of 2008.

“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,” Freddie Mac CEO Michael DeVito said in a statement. Fannie Mae President and Interim CEO David Benson added his company’s plan “lays the groundwork to meaningfully address housing barriers faced by Black renters and homeowners.”

Some of the reforms included in each company’s plan include down payment assistance, lower mortgage insurance premiums, and reserve funding for homeowner emergencies. The plan also laid out plans to increase fairness in the underwriting process, address appraisal disparities in multifamily housing, and finance programs that provide housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also rolling out a new credit reporting system that factors rent payments into credit scores. From September 2021 to May, about 2,000 applicants have benefited from Fannie Mae’s new credit reporting system. About 50% of applicants were racial minorities.

“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,” Benson said. “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.”

As for Freddie Mac, the company is expected to issue $3 billion in affordable housing bonds this year. By 2024, Freddie Mac wants to fund the construction of 30,000 new multifamily units. These units would allow credit-building for renters, accept housing choice vouchers and be designed inclusively for people with disabilities.

“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,” DeVito said.

USA Today contributed to this report.

Shannon Longworth: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have unveiled some of the biggest changes since the housing market crash of 2008.
They’re meant to help those in underprivileged communities become homeowners.
And ensure homebuyers of color keep their homes.
The reforms include assistance with down payments…lower mortgage insurance premiums…and reserve funding for homeowner emergencies.
The federally-backed mortgage companies are also rolling out a new credit reporting system that factors rent payments into credit scores.
Experts say low credit scores are some of the biggest barriers keeping renters of color from purchasing a home.
We’ve already seen some of these policies rolled out.
From September to May, roughly two-thousand applicants benefited from Fannie Mae’s credit reporting system.
About 50 percent of those applicants were racial minorities.

Federally backed home mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveiled a series of reforms each company is calling an Equitable Housing Finance Plan. Wednesday’s announcement serves as the most sweeping overhaul for either company since the housing market collapse of 2008.

“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,” Freddie Mac CEO Michael DeVito said in a statement. Fannie Mae President and Interim CEO David Benson added his company’s plan “lays the groundwork to meaningfully address housing barriers faced by Black renters and homeowners.”

Some of the reforms included in each company’s plan include down payment assistance, lower mortgage insurance premiums, and reserve funding for homeowner emergencies. The plan also laid out plans to increase fairness in the underwriting process, address appraisal disparities in multifamily housing, and finance programs that provide housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also rolling out a new credit reporting system that factors rent payments into credit scores. From September 2021 to May, about 2,000 applicants have benefited from Fannie Mae’s new credit reporting system. About 50% of applicants were racial minorities.

“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,” Benson said. “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.”

As for Freddie Mac, the company is expected to issue $3 billion in affordable housing bonds this year. By 2024, Freddie Mac wants to fund the construction of 30,000 new multifamily units. These units would allow credit-building for renters, accept housing choice vouchers and be designed inclusively for people with disabilities.

“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,” DeVito said.

USA Today contributed to this report.

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