Last month, leaders from across the multifamily industry converged in Phoenix, Arizona for Freddie Mac Multifamily's annual Customer Conference. At the event—the largest devoted exclusively to multifamily finance—1,200 Mortgage Bankers, Servicers, Investors, Broker-Dealers, Service Providers, and other industry participants discussed the industry and its future, as well as the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
The energy, enthusiasm and growth we saw in Phoenix tells an important story about our business and our industry.
The agenda didn't disappoint. Our keynote speakers provided valuable insight into a host of issues, such as leadership, impact investing, and the fundamentals of the multifamily market. Interactive panel discussions offered deep dives into many areas of our business. And as always, our commitment to innovation was on display, as we rolled out a number of new initiatives designed to finance properties quickly, more efficiently and less expensively.
Prior to the official start of the conference, each of our Advisory Councils met to receive direct feedback from our customers and investors on our progress and performance over the past year. The Councils also provided insight and guidance on our plans for 2018. At the same time, over 110 conference attendees enthusiastically volunteered at Solano Elementary School, embracing the opportunity to give back by helping paint, clean and make other improvements to the school.
Freddie Mac EVP David Brickman kicks off the 2017 Multifamily Customer Conference
The energy, enthusiasm and growth we saw in Phoenix tells an important story about our business and our industry. We're on track to have our best year ever, projected to fund approximately $70 billion and securitize more than $60 billion in multifamily loans. We are poised to set records across many of our platforms by providing liquidity and affordability across areas including small balance loans, affordable housing, green financings, and conventional programs. And as our conference attendance has doubled over the past three years, so has our staff—in order to meet the market demands, we've grown to almost 1,000 line of business employees from about 500 in 2014.
2017 has seen milestones beyond records in affordability and liquidity. Our master servicer rating was upgraded by Fitch Ratings, Inc. to the highest we can receive. This year, we eclipsed $200 billion in securitizations. And we financed the largest residential tower in the United States in an innovative deal that brought more than 275 units with long-term affordability restrictions to the middle of New York City.
On the investor side, we continued finding new ways to transfer first-loss risk away from the U.S. taxpayer. We introduced the first-ever securitization of a tax-exempt loan portfolio—which allowed us to reduce rates on our tax-exempt loans. Our K- and SB-Deal offerings continue to be immensely popular. Over 250 investors participated in the K-Deal program, and more than 200 participated in the SB-Deal program. And we continued to lead in innovative risk distribution through our newly introduced KT-Deals, which transfer the credit risk on loans awaiting sale into other securitizations.
In 2018, we expect these trends to continue fueling a strong multifamily market. Our latest renter research found an increasing number of renters across demographic groups are satisfied with their living situation and consider renting the most affordable option for the foreseeable future. In addition, demand is expected to remain high—multifamily supply coming on to the market is slowing, and there continues to be a housing shortage of over 400,000 units per year. We do not anticipate these trends going away.
Next year, we are focused on doing all we can to meet these needs by ensuring that all corners of the multifamily market have access to financing, particularly areas that are underserved. We plan to introduce several new innovations with this goal in mind, including a number of initiatives under our Duty to Serve plan, which is focused on financing affordable housing in overlooked markets. Our recently-announced program to invest in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits is among them.
Every aspect of our Phoenix event was designed to showcase the innovative solutions we have put together to provide the best financing and investment in the industry. So many of us left feeling connected, energized and inspired. As we round out another record year, we're focused on keeping that energy going—and riding that momentum and optimism into 2018.
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