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The financial health of a top U.S. mortgage program worsened this year, which could make it harder for affordable-housing advocates to persuade a key government agency to cut the fees it charges lower-income borrowers.

The capital reserves of the Federal Housing Administration fell by about $2 billion to $25.6 billion for the year ended in September, according to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report. The decline means the FHA is barely meeting the statutory minimum for money it must set aside to cover soured mortgages.

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