Agency will also host public listening session
Today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a Request for Input (RFI) on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s (together, the Enterprises) social bond policy. On March 28, 2023, FHFA will also host a public listening session to allow for additional input.
Currently, each Enterprise issues labeled multifamily social bonds—neither issues labeled single-family social bonds. This RFI will help FHFA understand the opportunities and potential risks associated with the Enterprises issuing single-family social bonds, under the framework of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) securities. FHFA also seeks input in defining the criteria and appropriate impact measures for Enterprise-labeled single-family social bonds.
“FHFA has closely monitored the continued emergence of ESG securities and the potential for social bonds to bring more liquidity and capital to the market,” said Director Sandra L. Thompson. “As we evaluate responses from this RFI, FHFA will also look at ways that social bonds could increase liquidity and support for underserved borrowers and communities.”
In 2021, both Enterprises began issuing single-family affordable bonds that are comprised of loans originated under each Enterprise’s affordable loan products. The Enterprises recently adopted the Social Index, a methodology for measuring the degree to which various types of lending activity are supported in a given pool. They also started publishing new single-family mortgage-backed securities disclosures based on this methodology. The new disclosures were designed in response to investor demand and aim to provide insights into the socially oriented lending activities supported by the Enterprises while preserving the confidentiality of borrowers’ personal information. The Social Index disclosures have facilitated the issuance of “High Social Index” pools.
While these activities may be interpreted and treated by some investors as social issuances, they were not developed by the Enterprises as labeled, designated social bonds. Through this RFI, FHFA seeks to inform future actions by the Enterprises to develop and issue such social bonds. The Enterprises’ establishment of a social bond program should provide investors with the additional information that they seek and promote sustainability, affordability, and equity in homeownership.
FHFA invites interested parties to provide written input, feedback, and information on all aspects of this RFI by April 17, 2023. Comments may be submitted via FHFA’s website (select “Social Bonds” from the menu) or mailed to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Fair Lending Oversight, 400 7th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20219.