WASHINGTON - For the second year in a row, Freddie Mac has fallen short of a goal set by the government for supporting mortgages in central cities.

In a March 1 letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Leland C. Brendsel, chairman of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., said that 25% of housing units financed by Freddie Mac in 1994 were in central cities, versus a 30% goal set by HUD.

Mr. Brendsel said the central city goal was "infeasible because HUD overestimated the size of the conventional, conforming housing market in central cities."

"We believe we did a good job in the central cities area," added Nancy Stern, vice president of public relations at Freddie Mac. She said Freddie Mac was working with HUD on a redefinition of the goal.

Meanwhile Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association, reported that it exceeded its goal for central cities, also 30%. The agency told HUD that 31.5% of the housing units it financed last year were in central cities.

In 1993, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac missed the central city targets set by HUD. Freddie Mac notched a central-city ratio of 24.1%, versus a goal of 26%. Fannie's ratio was 26.3%, versus a goal of 28%.

Both agencies, however, continue to exceed another key goal for affordable housing - total purchases of loans to people of low and moderate incomes.

Fannie reported that 45.7% of the units it financed in 1994 went to such borrowers - well in excess of HUD's 30% target for that category. Freddie Mac weighed in with 37%.

HUD has proposed a revision of the central city goal for 1995 and future years.

Under a proposed rule currently out for comment, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would have to do 18% of their business in 1995 in census tracts that have either a substantial minority population and median income at or less than 120% of area median income, or median income equal to 80% of the area median income. That goal would go up to 21% in 1996.

Freddie Mac supports the revision, but Fannie Mae opposes it.

In a March 1 letter to HUD, Fannie Mae chairman James Johnson said the agency had built an infrastructure to achieve the existing central city goal. "This work should not be wasted by a regulatory change of course, " he said.

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