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WASHINGTON, DC-GSE support for affordable housing did not meet their mandates for 2008–and it is likely they are going to miss their targets in 2009, according to comments made by Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart in a speech on Friday. The GSEs are mandated to set aside 56% of loan purchases and mortgage guarantees for low and moderate-income borrowers, Lockhart explained. Fannie Mae, however only directed 53.6% of its activity towards affordable housing; that figure for Freddie Mac was 51.5%.

In fact, GSEs’ support–or lack thereof–of affordable housing finance last year was worse than these figures reflect, Danna Fischer, legislative director for the National Low Income Housing Coalition, tells GlobeSt.com. Fannie and Freddie pulled back substantially from their purchases of Low Income Housing Tax Credits last year, she says. Purchases of LIHTCs are not reflected in their affordable housing goals, according to Fischer. However the GSEs presence in this market is essential; there are few other buyers that can equal their purchasing power. Furthermore, the value of the tax credits have dropped over the last year, eroding even more their impact.

Fischer notes that there are several new government aid programs to assist low income people with their housing needs, including the Obama Administration’s mortgage relief proposal.

Also, affordable housing advocates have put forth their own financial solutions. At the beginning of the year, for example, New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal announced it would create a new Upstate Equity Fund that would be managed by Great Lakes Capital Fund. More recently, the non-profit MacArthur Foundation contributed $32.5 million in seed funding to launch a program that will preserve some 70,000 affordable rental homes in 12 cities and states. Federal and state funds will bring the total amount of the program to $147 million.

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