Nonprofits worry about future of donations from Fannie, Freddie

Local,Taryn Luntz
The directors of local nonprofit organizations that count on donations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are holding their breath until the federal government decides what to do about the mortgage giants’ charitable giving.

The federal takeover of the two foundering locally based lenders, announced Sunday as a move aimed to bolster the housing and financial markets, left the future of several local charities uncertain.

Fannie Mae and its foundation have contributed more than $100 million to Washington-area organizations over the past five years, including money for schools infrastructure and to combat homelessness, according to the company.

Freddie Mac and its foundation invested more than $25 million in Washington nonprofits last year alone.

“The impact of Fannie and Freddie’s philanthropic lines in our region is very important - it has strengthened a lot of nonprofits,” said Chuck Bean, executive director of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington.

“I think there’s a scenario where it’s business as usual,” he said about the effect of the takeover on the grants. “I think there’s continuing investment and I think we’ll learn more this week.”

In a statement Sunday, Jim Lockhart, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which was created by Congress this summer to regulate Fannie and Freddie, said only: “We will review the charitable activities.”

A spokeswoman for the agency declined to elaborate Monday.

Community of Hope, which provides transitional and permanent housing for homeless families in Washington, has long been a beneficiary of the Freddie Mac Foundation.

The nonprofit received $250,000 from the foundation last year and is due to receive an additional $500,000 over the next two years.
The money is being leveraged and is part of the reason Community of Hope has just doubled its goal from providing housing for 50 homeless families to providing housing for 100 families, said Kelly Sweeney McShane, the organization’s executive director.

“They have supported us for a long time, although with much bigger funds more recently, which is fantastic,” McShane said. “I’m definitely hoping that this doesn’t impact their philanthropy, because it’s helping us grown and serve a lot more families than we’ve been able to do in the past.”

DC Central Kitchen, which delivers 115,000 meals a year to organizations serving the homeless, received a $25,000 grant from Freddie Mac this year.

“They’ve been supporters of ours from the beginning, spokesman William Neuheisel said. “We don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen, but we’re following it closely because it’s a significant source of money.”
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