Government Ownership of Fannie, Freddie Creates Opportunities, Says Housing Director

By Keat Foong, Executive EditorWashington, D.C.—There may be opportunities for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac financing programs to work more closely with FHA, Low Income Housing Tax Credit and other multi-housing initiatives now that the two GSEs are essentially government owned, surmised Conrad Egan, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference (NHC). “It is quite clear now that [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] are public entities,” Egan told MHN in an interview. “This opens up opportunities to combine Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac resources with FHA and tax credit programs.” The government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last month, placing them in conservatorship under the control of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). FHFA is federal agency that had been created under the landmark housing bill signed into law on July 30, 2008. The law replaced the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which formerly had oversight over the two GSEs, and the Federal Housing Finance Board. “FHFA is running those organizations. I like to think that over time, because [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] are more a part of the government operation,” there will be more opportunities for new synergies in the various housing programs, Egan suggested.  Egan said that many of the “tools, institutions and vehicles” used for producing housing today are “holdovers from another era.” He believes current developments present the opportunity, perhaps in the next Congress, to “to step back and look at the whole [housing] delivery system–FHA, Fannie Mae Freddie Mac, financing agencies, Ginnie Mae–and see how we can make the disparate elements work better together.” Egan affirmed he was “happy to see [the $700 billion financial] rescue plan implemented” recently.