WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed new rules for lower-income lending by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In a rule published today in the Federal Register, the department proposed that 38% of the units financed by each agency in 1995 be for low- and moderate-income borrowers.

For 1996, the regulator set that goal at 40%.

The regulation was proposed under a 1992 law that lays out a series of lending goals that the two agencies must meet annually to support home loans to lower-income and other underserved borrowers.

Congress set transitional goals for 1993 and 1994. The new goals represent a substantial increase from the transitional goals, but not much of a stretch for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In 1994, both agencies were required to ensure that 30% of the units they financed went to low- and moderate-income borrowers. Fannie Mae, formally the Federal National Mortgage Association, did a little over 43% of its business with such borrowers in 1994. According to HUD estimates, Freddie Mac, formally the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., did a little over 36%.

HUD defines low- and moderate-income borrowers as those who make 100% of median income or less. It estimates that 50% to 55% of all housing units fall into that category.

The regulations also set up a goal for lending to central-city and underserved areas. HUD has proposed that 18% of the units financed by the agencies in 1995, and 21% in 1996, fall in such areas.

Underserved areas are defined as census tracts with income levels less than 80% of median income in a metropolitan area, or with populations greater than 30% minority group members. Minority tracts must have incomes less than 120% of the metropolitan area median to count as underserved.

The new definition of underserved areas is more restrictive than the one HUD used in 1993 and 1994, which counted all parts of a central city.

HUD has also proposed a special affordable housing goal, intended to provide rental units and owned housing for very low-income families, who make less than 60% of the area median income.

In 1995, 11% of the units financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must fall into this category. For 1996, the goal is 12%.

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