Perspectives

Stability and Strength in Good Times and Bad

Jeffery Hayward
EVP, Multifamily
Mortgage Business

On January 2, I sent a message to my staff about what we envisioned for the year ahead. The multifamily market was booming. The economy was expanding. We had lofty goals for our green financing business and teams were coalescing around ways we could help deliver even more affordable housing across the country.

Of course, COVID-19 came. But as the song goes, life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted all aspects of our lives and business. At Fannie Mae and across the Delegated Underwriting and Servicing (DUS®) network, the work we used to do in our offices and at sites across the country is now being done remotely. But while our worlds have shrunk in many ways, our determination to fulfill our mission – to provide access to reliable, affordable mortgage financing in all markets at all times – has only grown.

The apartment homes that we finance and service together are an important part of the vibrant communities they anchor, and many of the residents in our properties serve as frontline workers in the businesses that remain open. As housing professionals, we have talked about the importance of workforce housing for years. This crisis has shined a bright light on that workforce, and how essential they are. Affordable, stable housing for these Americans is a critical component of a successful recovery.

Before COVID-19, we were dealing with an affordability crisis, and the economic impacts of the pandemic have only amplified it. Now more than ever, people need access to safe, decent, affordable housing. Here at Fannie Mae, we are committed to helping fulfill that need, through this crisis and beyond.

We remain committed to our affordable housing mission. Our housing goals have not changed. Our 37.5% mission-driven business minimum has not changed. Most importantly, the passion we have for creating and preserving affordable housing has not changed. We will continue to work daily to help preserve existing affordable housing in our most populated cities, support manufactured housing communities in rural markets, provide affordable housing options for our country's senior citizens, and utilize the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) to help communities in need.

While we respond to current needs, we are also preparing our people and processes for what lies ahead. Helping now is crucial, and so is being prepared to help when more borrowers and apartment residents need support. We're providing resources and information at KnowYourOptions.com for renters and homeowners who are struggling to make payments as a result of COVID-19. This is part of a broader education campaign we launched called "Here to Help."

There's a long way to go, which is why we're thinking about not just the coming weeks, but also how to assist in the recovery from this crisis in the future. Recovery may be a lengthy process, and at times a tough one, but our role in the recovery – as a source of safety and soundness in the housing market – is the same vital role we have always played in the secondary market. We are well equipped to meet the challenges ahead.

None of this work is possible without the partnership of our DUS lenders. Together, we have financed over 10 million units of affordable housing in the last 30 years. We have adapted successfully to all market cycles keeping liquidity in the multifamily market, so that Americans who need affordable rental housing can find it.

Crises have a way of clarifying the true character of people – and businesses. I think that is the case with Fannie Mae, its people, and its affordable housing mission. And today, that mission is truer, deeper, and clearer than it has ever been.

Jeff Hayward
Executive Vice President, Multifamily Division

May 7, 2020