As the Federal Home Loan Bank system enters its tenth decade, the Federal Housing Finance Agency has launched a comprehensive review focused on how the system can return to its original mission of providing liquidity to financial institutions across the country to expand mortgage lending in a changing marketplace, and strengthening FHLBanks' role in promoting affordable, sustainable, equitable, and resilient housing. It's been more than three decades since significant legislated attention has been given to the FHLBank system. It's been more than 10 years since legislators took up, but failed to enact, comprehensive GSE reform that notably would have maintained the FHLBank system status quo if it had been enacted, despite glaring weaknesses that were revealed during the financial crisis. Given this history and the slim chance that Congress will seriously consider any FHLBank legislation during this session, the logical question is whether the FHFA can use its various administrative authorities to significantly increase the system's funding of affordable housing and community development investments. This brief contends that it can and outlines three broad areas for administrative action:
- Increase FHLBanks support for smaller community banks and other mission lenders that play a significant role in financing affordable housing and community development in underserved markets,
- Boost financing for affordable housing and community economic development by expanding two underutilized project-based investment programs, and
- Raise the community support program threshold for fhlbank members as a requirement for long-term advance access.