A Message from Secretary Mel Martinez

The President's "America's Homeownership Challenge" has generated an unprecedented response from the nation's affordable housing industry. They have answered the President's challenge because they understand that homeownership is the single most powerful tool a family can use to improve its quality of life.

[Photo: Secretary Martinez at the White House Conference on Minority Homeownership.]

The Bush Administration has developed an aggressive housing agenda that includes both new programs and the expansion of existing programs targeted at making homeownership an option for more minority families. The Blueprint Partnership - our name for the group of entities that have joined together in response to the President's minority homeownership challenge - builds on the individual strengths of government, the real estate and mortgage finance industries, affordable housing groups and advocacy organizations. In doing so, the Partnership offers something through its collective strength that government alone cannot: a multi-dimensional, public/ private approach to closing the minority homeownership gap.

We have identified the four most important steps for meeting the President's challenge:

  • Educating homebuyers. This involves providing potential buyers with information about homeownership opportunities. Education is especially important for immigrant families, who are often unfamiliar with America's homebuying process and the opportunity for long-term financing, and may face the additional hurdle of a language barrier.
  • Increasing the supply of affordable homes. Here, we focus on increasing the supply of affordable housing in areas where housing is scarce. Strategies range from using proven and effective federal housing programs in order to boost supply, to reducing local regulatory burdens.
  • Providing assistance with down payment and closing costs. We can help families overcome one of the most common obstacles to homeownership - high down payment and closing costs - by expanding their options and giving them new opportunities to acquire the necessary capital.
  • Offering financing options. The final step on the road to homeownership is financing the home. In this section of the Blueprint, we focus on mortgage lending, including increasing funds for affordable mortgage loans, redoubling efforts to root out illegal discrimination, and cutting closing costs through federal regulatory reform.

The Bush Administration and its Blueprint Partners have made specific commitments, which are outlined within this document.

The President's dramatic challenge to increase the number of minority homeowners by 5.5 million before the end of this decade sets out a goal, but it does not by any means represent the limit of our commitment. We will not be satisfied until every American family that seeks to own a home, can buy a home.

That, after all, is the American Dream.

  Mel Martinez
Content Archived: April 9, 2010