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Fannie Mae Places 4,600 Katrina Evacuees in Rent-Free Housing; Company Fulfills Pledge to Provide 1,500 Properties


WASHINGTON, DC -- Fannie Mae announced on Thursday that it has fulfilled its pledge to provide 1,500 single-family properties from its inventory of Real Estate Owned (REO) for temporary housing for individuals and families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Nearly 4600 evacuees have been provided temporary shelter at no cost through the company’s initiative.

“In the wake of Katrina, we’ve made a concerted effort to assist those who were uprooted by the storm,” said Daniel H. Mudd, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Providing safe, free shelter to families who were displaced and enabling them to enroll their kids in school and regain some sense of normalcy as they continue to rebuild their lives is one way we’ve been able to help.”

Fannie Mae has donated about $9 million in what is expected to be a $25 million total commitment to the effort to house evacuees in its REO properties. The company has made the properties available for rent-free leasing for up to 18 months, and is also making $15,000 available for down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified evacuee families who wish to purchase any Fannie Mae-owned home any time during their rent-free lease period. To date, 80 families have taken advantage of the assistance and purchased the Fannie Mae-owned properties.

In addition, Fannie Mae has partnered with housing counselors, such as United Way and National Urban League affiliates, to begin working with families 6 months before their rent-free leases expire to help them prepare for the transition. Assistance can include homeownership counseling, helping families find a new place to live and job training.

Working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Catholic Charities, and other non-profits, the company began placing families in the dwellings immediately following the storm. The initial properties were located in states with the highest concentration of evacuees, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Today, Katrina evacuees are living rent-free in Fannie Mae-owned properties in 20 different states.

“This has been a great and welcome opportunity to work with Fannie Mae in helping families, most of whom had lost virtually everything during the storm,” said Ethel Higgins-Harris, Program Director, Emergency Assistance Program of Catholic Charities Atlanta, which helped to identify and place more than 450 families in the REO properties. “It is a wonderful partnership in service to victims of Hurricane Katrina.”

“We’ve been inspired by the resiliency of the evacuees we’ve worked with and the partners who have helped to make this initiative work,” Mudd continued. “As we work collaboratively to help rebuild communities throughout the Gulf region, we will continue to do all we can to help families devastated by the storm get back on their feet.”

For more information, or to arrange an interview with a family participating in the REO initiative, please contact Chrissie McHenry at 202-752-1297.


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