WASHINGTON — A group of 33 senators, mostly Democrats, is urging the new head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency to resume funding for two affordable housing trust funds.

The National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund were established under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 to help develop and improve affordable rental options. They were to be financed by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the FHFA oversees, but the two government-sponsored enterprises were placed into federal conservatorship shortly after the law's passage and allocations to the funds were largely suspended.

The lawmakers, all Democrats except for Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is an independent, sent a letter to newly-confirmed FHFA Director Mel Watt Friday asking him to start funding the programs with GSE profits ahead of broader legislative efforts to reform housing finance.

"We are all committed to reforming the mortgage finance system and do not believe Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be returned to their previous form. However, directing much needed funding for affordable rental housing should not wait until Congress and the President are able to agree on a new system," the group wrote in the letter. "The time is long overdue to lift the current suspension of contributions to the NHTF and CMF, and we ask your full and fair consideration of our request."

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