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Senator Schumer, Rep. Velazquez Join Asian Americans for Equality to Celebrate Freddie Mac's $1.5 Million Grant to Promote Affordable Housing in Lower Manhattan

Published 06-04-03

Submitted by Freddie Mac Foundation

NEW YORK, NY -- U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) joined Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) today to announce Freddie Mac's $1.5 million grant to the newly created Lower Manhattan Affordable Housing Trust Fund (LMAHTF). The Fund will support the development and preservation of affordable housing in the Lower Manhattan neighborhoods most affected by the September 11th World Trade Center disaster.

"This is a great day for Lower Manhattan, especially the residents of Chinatown," said Senator Charles Schumer. "Chinatown has demonstrated great courage and resilience both after the tragedies of 9/11 and during the baseless SARS scare. With the help of partners like Freddie Mac, that courage and resilience is being rewarded and helping to rebuild and revitalize all of Lower Manhattan."

"Rebuilding and revitalizing Lower Manhattan is one of my top priorities," said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. "Increased homeownership has been shown to promote community development through increased neighborhood involvement and investment in local businesses. Freddie Mac's generous contribution is an important step towards this goal and will help place more local residents on the road to homeownership."

The new Fund is one of several components in AAFE's Housing Vision for Lower Manhattan to sustain and revitalize neighborhoods of ethnic and income diversity. AAFE will seek additional financial commitments from government agencies, financial institutions and foundations for an annual pool of $15 million to be used as funding for low-interest loans to neighborhood affordable housing projects. AAFE anticipates this fund will contribute to meeting the goal of 15,000 affordable housing units preserved and developed over the next 10 years.

"Freddie Mac's contribution underscores our commitment to the people of Chinatown and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to expand affordable homeownership opportunities," said Jim Park, Vice President of Housing and Industry Relations, Freddie Mac. "We commend Senator Schumer, Rep. Velazquez, Asian Americans for Equality and our many other partners for helping more families find affordable housing in New York City and helping this area overcome the tragic events of September 11th."

In July 2002, Freddie Mac provided AAFE with $250,000 to fund the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative -- a six-month needs assessment to develop a vision for Chinatown's preservation and revitalization. During the community input phase of the Rebuild Chinatown Initiative last summer, almost 3,000 community stakeholders identified both the lack of affordable housing and the poor quality of the existing housing stock as the second most pressing community development priorities.

Freddie Mac also provided nearly $236,000 for the development of long-range plans to address the key community development priorities for restoring Chinatown's economic and social vitality.

"The dramatic loss of jobs and drop in revenues caused by the September 11 tragedy combined with the chronic shortage of affordable housing, substandard and overcrowded apartments and the pressures of gentrification, represent a serious threat to the long term viability and livability of New York City's Chinatown, the largest Chinatown in the United States," said Christopher Kui, Executive Director of AAFE. "The creation of the Lower Manhattan Affordable Housing Trust Fund together with the support of our elected officials, Freddie Mac, and other financial institutions signifies a powerful commitment to Chinatown."

The Trust Fund will be launched in two phases:

  • The first phase will focus on preservation and consist of low cost loans to qualified property owners to improve living conditions in older tenement buildings.

  • The second phase will consist of the formation of an Investment Committee comprised of foundations, banks and financial institutions that will assist the Fund in securing grants and low interest debt to spur construction of affordable housing projects.

Over the past five years, Freddie Mac has purchased $21.3 billion worth of mortgages made to New York City area residents, making homeownership possible for more than 159,638 residents across the metropolitan area.

Freddie Mac's support for the LMAHTF is a component of Catch the Dream, Freddie Mac's comprehensive plan to help achieve the national goal set by President Bush to add 5.5 million minority homeowners by the end of the decade.

Freddie Mac is a stockholder-owned corporation chartered by Congress in 1970 to create a continuous flow of funds to mortgage lenders. By supplying lenders with the money to make mortgages and packaging the mortgages into marketable securities, Freddie Mac sustains a stable mortgage credit system and reduces the mortgage rates paid by homebuyers. Over the years, Freddie Mac has opened the doors for one in six homebuyers in America and two million renters. (More information on Freddie Mac can be found on the company's web site located at http://www.freddiemac.com.)

AAFE has been a leader in New York City's community development movement since its groundbreaking project, Equality Houses, in 1988. To date, AAFE has completed a dozen sole and collaborative developments, which have created over 500 residential and 35 commercial units through the investment of over $55 million of public and private funds. These projects have included vacant building gut renovations, new construction, and occupied building rehabilitation.

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