Convinced that the nation's giant mortgage investment agencies can play a bigger role in helping the poor become homeowners, James W. Rouse said yesterday that he has agreed to head a new advisory council formed by Freddie Mac to develop low-income mortgage programs.
"I don't think we can continue to turn our backs to the way millions of people live in the United States," said Mr. Rouse, who founded the Rouse Co., the developer of Columbia, in 1939.
Freddie Mac, as McLean, Va.-based Federal Home Loan
Mortgage Corp. is known, is a stockholder-owned company created by Congress in 1970 to provide a continuing flow of money to mortgage lenders.
It is part of the secondary mortgage market, which supplies lenders with money for residential mortgages, then packages the mortgages into marketable securities.
Freddie Mac's chief executive officer, Leland C. Brendsel, who formed the new council, said it will "tap the marketplace" for new ideas and programs to meet the mortgage needs ofpoor or moderate-income homebuyers. The panel will hold daylong meetings twice a year.
"We believe Jim Rouse is the most qualified man in America to help us develop a strong affordable-housing program," Mr. Brendsel said. In 1982, Mr. Rouse founded the Enterprise Foundation, a non-profit housing group that seeks to produce affordable housing for low-income families.
Mr. Rouse said yesterday in an interview that it was unclear to him how Freddie Mac and its sister organization, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), can expand their roles in helping funnel mortgage money to the poor. But the housing needs of low-income families must take on critical importance if the problems of the nation's inner cities are to be addressed, he said.
"I think we've done very badly in recent years," Mr. Rouse said. "I think that the Reagan-Bush years have been a disaster in many (( ways, including housing for the poor."
He added, however, that interest in affordable-housing issues has increased in the past several years.
The 12 other council members are lenders and leaders of the affordable-housing movement.