WASHINGTON - For the second year in a row, a group of Freddie Mac shareholders is trying to link executive compensation to the agency's support of low-income lending.

The shareholders - seven religious orders with a combined 48,000 shares - want short-term cash bonuses at Freddie Mac to be linked to the agency's performance in meeting congressionally mandated goals for support of low- income housing.

In 1994, Freddie Mac met one of those housing goals, but failed to meet another.

Shareholders will vote on the proposal at Freddie Mac's annual meeting on May 2.

In its proxy statement, Freddie Mac's board of directors said it opposes the proposal because it takes "too narrow a view of the corporation's role in supporting the secondary market."

"Freddie Mac's congressional charter articulates a complex, four-part mission that is heavily focused on the creation and maintenance of efficient, stable, and liquid markets," the directors said.

"By supporting the efficiency, stability, and liquidity of the secondary mortgage market, Freddie Mac reduces the costs of mortgage finance and thereby makes housing more affordable for all Americans," they added.

The board said it believes that Freddie Mac already appropriately considers affordable housing performance in setting executive compensation.

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