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American Indians get 227 New Mexico mortgages

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. ? Fannie Mae's New Mexico Partnership Office is nearing a $3 billion affordable housing goal, and some of that effort has gone toward housing American Indians, both in direct mortgages and in investments in housing projects.

Over the past three years it bought single-family mortgages of 227 American Indian families in the state including 35 on reservation trust land, a difficult type of lending, director Steven Anaya reported. This would translate into about $20 million in finance extended to these families.

Fannie Mae also financed American Indian housing projects around the state through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and other means, adding several million dollars more in investments, said Anaya, formerly the New Mexico director of the Rural Development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition, Fannie Mae this year purchased the first private mortgage ever extended on the pueblo of Pojoaque just north of Santa Fe, a Rural Housing Service-guaranteed loan extended by First National Bank of Santa Fe to tribal members Daryl and Rosemary Whitegeese.

The mortgage also was the first guaranteed by the RHS on a stick-built structure in Indian country. Previously, only manufactured housing loans had received a guarantee.

This provides members of the pueblo who make more than 80 percent of the area median income with an opportunity to finance homes on the reservation, allowing more tribal members to remain on their homelands.

Fannie Mae, RHS and the Pojoaque Tribe collaborated on necessary legal structure to allow mortgages on the pueblo. The agency also worked with other New Mexico pueblos to get legal codes in place.

In all, it has agreed to buy mortgages on many of the state's pueblos (Laguna, Jemez, San Juan, San Felipe, Isleta, Sandia and Picuris as well as Pojoaque). It will buy loans extended to very low-income members of the Isleta pueblo in the first large-scale (50 homes) private lending effort on any of the state's pueblos. Ground was broken for the $4 million project this spring. Bank of Albuquerque, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and RHS are expected to be the primary lenders.

Fannie Mae just purchased a Department of Housing and Urban Development Title VI loan on the Pojoaque pueblo. The $435,000 loan, extended by Century Bank of Santa Fe, is the first Title VI loan to be bought in the secondary market.

This creates liquidity for an underused federal program that could bring hundreds of millions of dollars of housing finance to tribal homelands.

The agency made a $1 million equity investment in a 20-unit project on the Santo Domingo pueblo, using Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Its investment was more than half of the total $1.8 million project. The two- three- and four-bedroom detached homes will go to very low-income residents of the pueblo.

It struck a deal to buy mortgages on the Navajo Nation, which extends into New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Fannie Mae last year marked its first private financing on the giant reservation, to Ron and Karen Maldonado, in Fort Defiance, Ariz., just across the New Mexico state line. Suburban Mortgage of Albuquerque extended the loan.

Fannie also has agreed to a $3 million Navajo mortgage initiative with PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., San Francisco. The New Mexico office's Native American outreach was made by former deputy director Mark Vanderlinden, now in the agency's regional office in Dallas.

Three billion dollars in financing for 33,000 New Mexico families in five years was Fannie Mae's promise in 1998 when it opened its office here.

Three years later, with $2.9 billion in commitments to house 34,173 families in the state, it looks as if the agency will meet those goals early.