The National Housing Trust Fund is one of the only new social safety net programs in a generation. It was launched by the bill President George W. Bush signed into law in 2008 to try to rescue Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the subprime mortgage crisis. The fund was designed to create and preserve affordable housing for families with worst-case needs, but it only recently came online. When the financial crisis threatened to become a global catastrophe in 2008, the Housing Trust Fund was shelved.
In April 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that the Housing Trust Fund was finally fully operational. Its first tranche of funding, $174 million, would serve extremely low-income and very low-income households—vulnerable families struggling to stay in homes. The funds would be distributed to housing agencies across the country, a block grant with certain mandates about how and where the money needed to be spent.