The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) "very shortly" will offer a proposed rule to lower the affordable housing goals imposed on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a key agency official said at the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) National Secondary Market Conference in Chicago.

The FHFA took over the goal setting function when it assumed the job of regulating the GSEs mission functions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development when it was created by Congress last year. Though Edward DeMarco, the FHFA's chief operating officer and senior deputy director for housing mission and goals, said he was not at liberty to reveal the details of the forthcoming rule, he did say that the plan was to modify the goals so they would be "on par" with those set by HUD for the period from 2004 to 2006.

But even at that, he added, "we recognize" that the GSEs will have to "stretch" to meet them. DeMarco also said that the affordable housing goals set for 2008, most of which were missed by Fannie and Freddie, were "unrealistic" and "not feasible," given the conditions of the housing market at that time.

And noting that keeping low and moderate-income families in their homes is sound public policy, he said that Fannie and Freddie will be given credit under the proposed rule for loan modification activities as part of their new affordable housing targets.

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