The proposed affordable-housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not nearly as tough as they may have seemed when they were announced with great fanfare a few weeks ago.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development proposal would require the government-sponsored enterprises to raise the portion of their portfolios devoted to low- and moderate-income loans by 6 percentage points, to 48%. But a close review of the guidelines reveals that HUD is also proposing a liberalization in the way loans for apartments would be counted. Had the same rules been in effect, the two companies would have been close to meeting many of the requirements two years ago.

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