WASHINGTON - Loans to minorities declined last year as a portion of all mortgages bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, new federal data show.

The loans accounted for 12.3% of the mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae, down from 13.4% in 1991. At rival Freddie Mac, the loans fell to 12.8% of the total from 15.7%.

Erosion of Minority Share

The two secondary market agencies - formally the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. - also posted drops in lower-income loans as a portion of all purchases.

The data, gathered under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, disturbed housing advocates and could lead to closer scrutiny of the agencies on Capitol Hill.

"Whatever increased resources they've put into minority lending has not curbed runoff in [the] minority share," said Chris Lewis of the Consumer Federation of America.

That may be, in part, because Fannie and Freddie's "operational strategy is focused on income, not race," said Deepak Bhargava of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

The two companies must meet new low-and moderate-income lending goals mandated by Congress, but have no goals for minority lending.

The agencies attributed the declines partly to heavy refinancing activity that masks greater outreach to those market segments.

A 'Fuzzy' Picture

The number of minority and lower-income loans bought by Fannie Mae "has increased dramatically," said spokesman David Jeffers. But, he said, those loans appeared as smaller portions of total Purchases because refinancings boosted the total dramatically.

Furthermore, he said, the statistics give only a "fuzzy", picture of measure Fannie's business. A high Percentage of loans sold to the secondary market are not counted, he said.

The statistics on the agencies' support of mortgages for minorities are comparable to the numbers for primary market lenders. Lenders made 12.4% percent of their loans in 1992 to non-white borrowers.

Meanwhile, loans to people of low and moderate income accounted for 24.7% of loans bought by Fannie Mae last year, down from 26% in 1991. For Freddie, the corresponding percentages were 25.5% in 1992, down slightly from 25.6% the year before.

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