The Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA), or Ginnie Mae, was established in the United States in 1968 to promote home ownership. As a wholly owned government corporation within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Ginnie Mae’s mission is to expand affordable housing in the U.S. by channeling global capital into the nation’s housing finance markets. The Ginnie Mae guarantee allows mortgage lenders to obtain a better price for their loans in the capital markets. Lenders then can use the proceeds to make new mortgage loans available to consumers. This also helps to lower financing costs and create opportunities for sustainable, affordable housing for families seeking home ownership.
In 1934, during the depths of the Depression, the United States Congress responded to the crisis by passing the National Housing Act of 1934, which established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). One of the principal objectives of FHA was to increase the flow of capital to the housing markets by insuring private lenders against the risk of mortgage default. FHA also was tasked with chartering and regulating a national mortgage association that would buy and sell FHA-insured mortgages.
In 1938, Congress amended the act to create the Federal National Mortgage Association, more commonly known as "Fannie Mae", to help mortgage lenders gain further access to capital for mortgage loans.
The provisions of the act changed gradually over the years. It was not until 1968, however, in response to the need to further broaden the capital base available for mortgages that the housing finance system began to resemble its current form. As part of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, Congress partitioned Fannie Mae into two entities:
1. Fannie Mae, which retained responsibility for purchasing “conventional” (non-Government-guaranteed) mortgages that conformed to specified standards, and
2. the Government National Mortgage Association, now known as Ginnie Mae.
Today, Ginnie Mae securities are the only mortgage-backed securities that are backed by the full faith and credit guaranty of the United States government, although some have argued that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac securities are de facto beneficiaries of this guarantee after the US government rescued them from insolvency in 2008.