PORTLAND - Homeownership is as American as apple pie. That's why, every June, HUD and our partners celebrate National Homeownership Month. No parades or fireworks, confetti or barbecues, just the simple recognition of how essential homeownership is to building strong families and strong communities.
"For millions of Americans, owning a home is an important step toward financial security and achieving the American Dream," President Trump (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/president-donald-j-trump-proclaims-june-2018-national-homeownership-month/) recently proclaimed. "Owning a home gives Americans a place to call their own, and a place of comfort and safety where they can raise their families. Homeowners also support local businesses, have a strong vested interest in their communities, and foster bonds of friendship with others who live and work in their neighborhoods. A home is more than a place to live - it is also an investment in family, in community, and in the long-term prosperity of our great country." As the nation's housing agency, homeownership is at the very heart of what HUD does.
First things first. In America telling people they can't buy a house, get a mortgage or live in a community because of their race, religion, national origin, gender, color, disability or family status is a no-no, a violation of the Fair Housing Act, a law HUD's charged with enforcing. Trust us. We take that responsibility very seriously.
Just as fundamental to HUD's work is making sure homebuyers know what they're in for. Buying a home is the biggest investment most families ever make and the process from finding the house of your dreams and signing on the dotted line is a long and complex one.
The smarter the buyer from the get-go, the better and smarter the buy will be at closing. Which is why HUD funds and encourages buyers to tap the expertise of some 1,800 HUD-approved housing counseling agencies across the country to help them understand and navigate the ins-and-outs buying a home. In 2017 alone, some 4,000 buyers "got smart" thanks to the classes and counseling offered by Oregon's 28 HUD-approved housing counseling offices.
Now the real work begins - finding and financing a home they can afford. For most buyers, the first big challenging is assembling a down-payment. Since 1992 HUD's awarded HOME Investment Partnership (https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/home/topics/homeownership/#policy-guidance) funds to cities and counties that can, if they choose, help eligible buyers with down-payment and closing costs. This year, HOME grantees in Oregon state provided more than one million dollars to do precisely that.
Down-payments, go only so far, covering only a fraction of a home's full cost. Which is why, more than 400 eligible Oregon homebuyers have teamed with nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity or Community Frameworks, rolling up their sleeves, picking-up a hammer or a saw and working 100 or more hours helping build the house they hope to call home. That qualifies them for up to $15,000 HUD Self-Help Homeownership (https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/shop/) grants that can cover the costs of site acquisition or infrastructure improvements, a big help to buyers seeking to cut costs.
Few buyers pay cash for their homes. They borrow the bulk of what's due. For 80-plus years mortgages insured by FHA, the Federal Housing Administration, have been a safe, sound, smart way to do that. It's an especially good fit for first-time buyers or families of limited means – a low 3.5 percent down payment requirement, flexible underwriting and borrowers don't need diamond-studded credit scores. Thanks to FHA, more than 40 million homebuyers - including more than 438,000 in Oregon - have been able to borrow $4.4 trillion of private "homeownership capital" to buy their piece of the American Dream.
Every National Homeownership Month, President Trump observed, "we affirm the joy and benefits of homeownership," something we've done bigger and better than any nation in the world. Just like mom's apple pie, that's well worth celebrating.
|Content Archived: January 30, 2020|