The Board of Directors announced several changes in 2016 designed to help you obtain value from the Bank. The Board reduced the minimum stock requirement in the annual calculation for membership; lowered the cap on membership stock for any one member; and decreased the activity stock requirement for advances.
These changes lowered your investment requirements in the Bank without affecting your borrowing capacity and, in turn, created excess stock that was no longer required by the Bank. In November 2016, we announced we would automatically repurchase all excess stock on a weekly basis beginning on January 26, 2017.
In January 2017, the Board increased the dividend declared per share on both sub-classes of stock for the fourth quarter of 2016.
Reliable access to both short-term liquidity and long-term funding is a principal benefit of membership. In June 2016, we announced that most advance funding terms were available under our popular Reduced Capitalization Advance Program (RCAP), which affords members the opportunity to borrow new short- or long-term advances with an activity stock requirement of 2%.
This change — when combined with our customized solutions, flexible funding strategies, and highly competitive rates — contributed to substantial growth in advances. At year-end 2016, advances were $45.1 billion. More members also took advantage of our letters of credit, which were $10.8 billion at year-end 2016, up 61% from year-end 2015.
We remain committed to providing members access to the secondary mortgage market through the Mortgage Partnership Finance® (MPF®) Program. MPF origination volumes on and off balance sheet for the Bank were $3.1 billion for 2016.
The reintroduction of the MPF Traditional products, which reward members for managing the credit risk of the mortgages they sell to us, contributed to this substantial increase. During 2016, Participating Financial Institutions earned $2 million in such credit support income. In addition, members can receive servicing fee income and a potential gain on sale.
Supporting your community investment activities is core to our mission. In 2016, more than 200 members received over $16 million in Downpayment Plus® (DPP®) funding on behalf of approximately 2,700 homebuyers in your communities.
Over $26 million was granted through our competitive Affordable Housing Program (AHP) to help finance 46 affordable housing projects located primarily in Illinois and Wisconsin. These AHP awards will help your partners with the acquisition, rehabilitation, and new construction of over 2,200 housing units.
Since 1989, the Bank has awarded more than $401 million in competitive AHP grants and more than $156 million in DPP funds.