Because this has been such an important issue that many of you took action on, I wanted to provide an update on our successful progress regarding Fannie Mae’s declining markets policy. As a result of our collective actions, Fannie Mae has agreed to revise their policy in ways that we feel are fairer and less restrictive than the original policy.

Fannie Mae will cease to use ZIP codes as the scale at which they designate declining markets. The fair housing community is philosophically opposed to ZIP code-by-ZIP code designations and using geography rather than borrower qualifications to determine mortgage terms. Fannie also indicated they had considered shrinking the policy so that it only affected loans with no down payment. We applauded that change, and they will include that in the revision. This means loans where the borrower would make a down payment of 5 percent or more will no longer be subject to the revised policy. We will meet with Fannie Mae in April to finalize our agreement.

Fannie Mae did use ZIP codes as the scale at which this policy was implemented. Their list of ZIP codes was smaller than those used by other companies that have made their lists public and did not include every ZIP code in the
Chicago region. However, they did include a majority of the ZIP codes in the Chicago region. The data sets used to determine declining markets includes Fannie Mae’s own historical data and the data from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. Fannie Mae revises these indicators monthly.

This result would not have occurred without your involvement. Fannie Mae’s staff told us they were aware of the petition and of the widespread popular disapproval of the policy.

Senator Richard Durbin, Senator Barack Obama, and Representative Danny Davis all kept in continual contact with the
Housing Center and other advocates on this issue. They provided us with support, offered to gather information, and assisted with our advocacy. Outside of our region, Senator Christopher Dodd also provided assistance.

Village of Oak Park and Oak Park Township both wrote supporting letters to our federal delegation.

The Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance, Housing Action Illinois, and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition all provided support and resources.

Our negotiating team of Geoff Smith from the Woodstock Institute, fair lending expert Stella Adams, Angela Ciccola of the NAACP, and Audrey Wiggans of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights all took part in the meeting with Fannie Mae. Their input and insight ensured our success.

This is an important victory for fair housing. We accomplished it because we were organized in our actions and unified in our principles. Thanks again for all your efforts!

Rob Breymaier

Executive director, Oak Park Regional Housing Center

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