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BOSTON -- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will use advertising, education and counseling programs to boost the homeownership rate of Latinos across the United States, Secretary Henry Cisneros announced today.

HUD will work with mortgage lending institutions and Latino groups to achieve a goal of 47 percent homeownership for Latinos by the year 2000, Cisneros said. At the beginning of this year, 41.4 percent of Latino households were homeowners, compared with 65.1 percent of total U.S. households.

Cisneros was in Boston to address the National Conference of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest and largest Hispanic organization in the United States.

"Our mission is to make the dream of homeownership a reality for millions more American families," Cisneros said. "We have set an ambitious but attainable goal to boost the homeownership rate for Latinos by the end of the century."

"Homeownership allows families to improve their living conditions and to build equity instead of seeing rent money disappear forever," Cisneros said. "It allows families to create a legacy for their children and strengthens neighborhoods."

Achieving the 47 percent Latino homeownership goal will require helping about 900,000 Latino households to become homeowners over the next four years.

Cisneros said the new initiative includes:

  • $4 million for a Spanish and English advertising and marketing program this year to inform Latinos of homeownership opportunities -- a 33 percent increase from last year.

  • Homebuyer education and counseling outreach programs, along with written materials and broadcast public service announcements, offered in Spanish and English and geared to the needs of Latinos in areas with large Hispanic populations.

  • Expanding a toll-free telephone line, which offers homeownership information, to respond to calls in Spanish. The number is: 1-800-CALL FHA. Callers will receive a packet of information in Spanish on buying a home and explaining Federal Housing Administration mortgage programs.

  • Working with lending institutions to help them better understand the needs of Latinos and better serve the community.
Programs supported by the new initiative will give Latinos information about budgeting, credit, flexible downpayment programs, programs that assist first-time homebuyers, home maintenance and other homeownership issues.

The FHA, a government-owned mortgage insurer that is part of HUD, already works with lenders to insure 41 percent of home financing used by Hispanic Americans.

The National Council of La Raza and the National Hispanic Housing Council will work with HUD on the initiative, as will lending institutions and other groups that are part of the National Partners in Homeownership.

The Partners is a coalition of 58 national organizations representing lenders, real estate professionals, home builders, non-profit groups and federal, state and local governments. It was formed a year ago to increase homeownership.

Belen Robles, National President of LULAC, said the HUD program will improve the lives of many families. "HUD is giving people the information and help they need to become homeowners," Robles said. "Latinos still suffer from discrimination, and immigrants have difficulty with English. Some think they are unable to afford homeownership even when they actually can."

President Clinton's commitment to increased homeownership by all Americans was spelled out in the National Homeownership Strategy issued a year ago. The strategy helped bring the nation's homeownership rate to a 15-year high this year.

The President has committed the nation to achieving a record overall homeownership rate of 67.5 percent in the year 2000 -- up from the current 65.1 percent. Since 1993, the number of American homeowners has increased by more than 3 million. The goal of the National Homeownership Strategy is to increase the number of homeowners by 8 million by the year 2000.


Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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