Fannie Mae Foundation

Federal programs that have been established with homeownership as an explicit objective have been rare, limited, and often short-lived. Programs that promote or facilitate homeownership generally were created to serve other purposes, such as macroeconomic stimulus. Such programs have often been retained or expanded because of their effects on homeowners and homeownership, however, with their initial purpose forgotten or ignored. This article reviews the federal government's active involvement in housing, which generally dates from the 1930s. With regard to homeownership, federal involvement has included tax provisions, credit market participation and regulation, and (rarely) direct subsidies. Federal programs such as the Federal Housing Administration have had profound impacts on owner-occupied housing and housing finance, but many of the innovations commonly attributed to government programs were in fact present in the past and developed by the private sector.

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