National

Nov 12, 2009 10:09 AM by Alan Zibel

Another taxpayer bailout? Housing agency's financial cushion sinks

The Federal Housing Administration says its financial cushion has dipped to a dangerously low level but should remain above zero under "most economic scenarios."

The agency, a major source of funds for first-time homebuyers, faces mounting concerns that it will eventually need a taxpayer bailout as losses grow from homeowners who lose their jobs and can't pay their mortgages.

An independent audit being sent to Congress shows reserves for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 fell to $3.6 billion, compared with $685 billion in outstanding insured loans. That's a ratio of 0.53 percent and far below the 2 percent level Congress has required since the 1990s.

Officials, however, project agency's financial picture should correct itself within two years.

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