The House voted Tuesday to make permanent a federal program that guarantees multifamily housing loans in small towns by private lenders and state agencies.

Under the one-year program launched last year, Rural Housing Services has approved nine requests totaling $13.8 million in guarantees on $19.7 million in new construction.

To be eligible for the program, housing developments must be located in towns with fewer than 10,000 residents. Projects in towns with as many as 20,000 residents may also participate if federal officials determine the community suffers from a lack of mortgage credit.

The legislation, approved by a vote of 397-14, was sponsored by Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb. -Bill McConnell

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