Lee P. Brown

Best Practice Recognition
The City of Houston and Fannie Mae

Many cities pursue increased home ownership for its quality of life and tax base benefits. However, many find it a difficult "nut to crack", stemming from the multitude of different public policy issues involved. The City of Houston and Fannie Mae together launched a multi-faceted program in 1995 to help 30,000 families through a $2 billion five-year investment. The multi-billion dollar scale of the effort matches the scope of the partnerships involved. The partnerships fall into the following three categories:

  • Expanding Homeownership Opportunities. Under this category, Fannie Mae, among other things, has: partnered low down payment mortgage products with the city’s three down payment and closing cost assistance programs to assist home purchasing by families earning 80% or less of the area medium income; created, along with the Houston Housing Finance Corporation, a $10 million revolving line of credit to support housing development in the city’s most distressed neighborhoods; and announced an innovative $100 million New Immigrants Underwriting Experiment to provide greater flexibility for legal, non-permanent resident aliens to qualify for mortgage loans.

  • Increasing Multifamily Affordable Housing. Under this category, Fannie Mae has moved aggressively to partner with apartment complexes offering low-income rentals, making investments ranging from $2.8 to $7.2 million. One complex, the Tidwell Estates Apartments, provided the first new rental housing in its area for 40 years. All together the partnerships have supported 657 units of affordable rentals.

  • Raising Homeowner Awareness and Building Counseling Capacity. In cooperation with local grassroots organizations, Fannie Mae has complemented its financial support with education. For example, it has helped expand the Houston Homeownership Counseling Collaborative and donated $35,000 to the Congress of National Black Churches to support one-on-one homebuyer counseling through the Dominion CDC, a faith-based non-profit counseling agency.

Fannie Mae and the City of Houston are working with numerous local agencies in search of a better solution to the problem of affordable housing. By the end of 1998, their combined efforts had brought about over $2 billion in investment in housing for 36,000 low-income, minority, and first-time homebuyers. With such success, in May of 1999, Fannie Mae and the City of Houston announced a renewed partnership to invest another $3.8 billion and assist 60,000 families. 

For more information, please contact:

James J. Smith, Director
Houston Partnership Office
Fannie Mae
1200 Smith, Suite 2335
Houston, Texas 77002
Telephone: (713) 652-0410
Fax: (713) 652-0419

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