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In the more than 90 years since the first credit union opened its doors, never has the industry contributed more to housing than in 2002. We applaud the amazing statistics from the National Credit Union Administration showing that federally insured credit unions originated $46 billion in first mortgages last year, more than double the $20 billion in 2000. Credit unions are making mortgage financing available to their members in every community across the country. But even as mortgage originations have reached dizzying levels, many families in our communities have not been able to achieve the American Dream. That has to change; we must all do more. Here are the sobering facts: Even after the greatest boom in mortgage lending history, the minority homeownership rate stands at just 47%, a full 20 percentage points lower than the national rate. You have to look back more than 60 years to find the last time a 47% homeownership rate for minority families would have equaled the national average. Credit unions are an integral part of Freddie Mac’s efforts to help increase the nation’s total homeownership rate, and particularly the minority homeownership rate, to new heights by the end of the decade. This goal is aligned with President George W. Bush’s call to increase minority homeowners by 5.5 million households by the end of 2010. To meet this bold objective, Freddie Mac needs to work with credit unions and other lenders and deliver the kind of products, services and technology that will reduce costs, speed the process and approve more qualified borrowers. This is a tall task, but for more than 30 years, Freddie Mac has been working with lenders of all types to expand housing opportunities in America by providing a reliable supply of low-cost financing through the world’s best secondary market. The secondary market is the critical link between investors in the global capital markets and homebuyers in communities across the nation. We congratulate credit unions on the role they already play in “Access Across America”, a program sponsored by the NCUA. Following President Bush’s call to action during homeownership month in June, NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar reinforced the historical commitment of credit unions. Dollar said, “Because many Americans, especially minority families, have found that obtaining the American Dream of homeownership is a particularly vexing challenge, credit unions have been a part of the their answer for years and can be even more so in the future.” We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we have been engaged in an expanded effort to reach out to credit unions. Credit unions occupy a unique niche in the community, and know all too well that owning a home provides a sense of security, contributes to strong neighborhoods, and has been a consistent way for families to accumulate wealth. What are we offering credit unions and other lenders to support the President’s objective? Freddie Mac just announced 25 initiatives as part of a comprehensive approach to increasing homeownership in America. We call it “Catch the Dream,” and it is a team effort with mortgage lenders and nonprofit housing and community organizations. Again, as NCUA Chairman Dollar noted, partnership with others committed to housing is essential. We continue to forge strong relationships with credit union trade groups and their members. Together, we’re developing and delivering innovative home financing solutions that will enhance their members’ ability to increase homeownership and implement the President’s pledge. Through partnership and innovation we will accelerate the growth in homeownership, and help millions more minority families own their own homes in this decade. Freddie Mac has pledged to finance $400 billion of mortgages to minority families by 2010. Doing so is simply good business, because much of the growth in housing demand will come from minority families. It is incumbent on the housing industry to serve this growing and diverse new generation of homebuyers. Consider the numbers. During the next ten years, more than 15 million new homebuyers will enter the market – nine million will be minority families. Two-thirds of those will be Hispanic borrowers, many of them immigrants. The housing industry must reach consumers throughout every stage of the homebuying process, from making the home purchase decision to owning the home. We call this the homeownership cycle. Education is a key part of the decision to purchase a home. By ensuring the broadest distribution of information on credit and the financing process, we can show people that homeownership is within reach. By working with public and private partners at the national and local levels, we can provide more families access to affordable homes. Freddie Mac is leveraging homebuyer assistance and other programs to promote construction of affordable housing and encourage investments in urban neighborhoods. Credit unions already are engaged in reaching out into underserved markets. The NCUA program that enables credit unions to service low-income communities has reported remarkable results, with more than 870 new credit unions formed. But access to communities is only half the job. The other half is having the right products to get people into homes they can afford and keep. To do that, Freddie Mac offers a variety of products and technology that credit unions can deploy to serve their members, including low-down-payment products and mortgages for those overcoming credit difficulties, Loan Prospector” on the Internet automated underwriting technology, among others The dream is not just buying the home; it is being able to afford and keep it. Through information, responsible lending standards and new loan servicing technology tools, we can help homebuyers retain their security and avoid predatory lending practices that undermine homeownership. Recently we co-sponsored the New York City launch of Don’t Borrow Troubler, an award winning national multi-media and counseling campaign that helps existing homeowners learn to avoid the kinds of practices that eventually lead to foreclosure and a nightmarish end to the American Dream. Record homeownership does not occur by chance. Presidents, policymakers, industry leaders and lenders of all sizes have worked in each generation to expand opportunities for families to achieve the American Dream. Our 25-point plan, and our commitment to partnership and innovation build on that history. In the decade ahead, people living in cities and towns across America can count on Freddie Mac to ensure a reliable supply of funds to mortgage lenders in support of homeownership. We will continue to work with credit unions and other lenders to identify challenges to homeownership and to develop solutions that open doors for more families.

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