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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 97-191
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-1420Monday,
Or contact your local HUD officeOctober 6, 1997


NEW YORK -- Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said today that HUD is working to increase the nation's homeownership rate with a series of actions, including new reforms of the Federal Housing Administration and a focus on boosting homeownership among minorities, female-headed households, and in cities.

Speaking to a conference of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, Cuomo said the actions will help continue the rise in homeownership, which is heading toward a record rate.

"The boom in homeownership isn't a fluke or an accident," Cuomo said. "It's the direct result of an economic policy put in place by President Clinton to reduce the deficit, balance the budget, and get our fiscal house in order."

Cuomo said the FHA, which has helped more than 30 million American families become homeowners since 1934, is being improved to run more like a business, under a series of management reforms he has instituted at HUD.

Under the reforms:

  • The FHA will move from 81 small offices to four Homeownership Centers with state-of-the art technology to operate more effectively and efficiently. By moving the processing functions of the FHA to the four centers, HUD's field offices will be able to concentrate on customer services. This follows the pattern of banks that have consolidated "back office" functions.

  • FHA will introduce automated underwriting, and will work with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and PMI to develop a universal approval system.

  • FHA will establish eight Multifamily Centers, along with new Assessment and Section 8 Financial Centers. Enforcement activity will be run out of an Enforcement Center based in New York City and headed by an FBI agent on detail.

  • Lenders will be given more authority to operate efficiently, so they can better serve customers. For example, under a new lender insurance system lenders will issue their own insurance certificates, using an interactive processing system to speed the issuance of insurance. This will allow lenders to avoid copying and shipping hundreds of thousands of case binders each year.

Cuomo also said Ginnie Mae is working to provide better services. He announced that Ginnie Mae will open a new office in New York City to increase the understanding and visibility of Ginnie Mae securities on Wall Street and throughout the global capital markets. In addition, Ginnie Mae will soon begin a pilot program using its new prequalification software called the Path to Homeownership.

In other initiatives, Cuomo announced:

  • President Clinton has asked Cuomo to chair the new Partnership for Advancing Technologies in Housing (PATH) initiative. The goal of the initiative is to bring down the cost of home construction by introducing new technologies and increasing energy efficiency.

  • HUD is working to reinvent itself as a leader for housing innovation. As part of the effort, in January HUD will launch the Secretary's Awards for Excellence in Housing to recognize the best design, best planning and best construction in the affordable housing industry.

  • HUD will launch a national advertising campaign in print and on television to increase the rate of homeownership and educate Americans about the value of homeownership.

  • HUD is working on legislation to streamline both the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Truth in Lending Act. HUD's goal is to provide consumers with good information, without unnecessarily burdening the lending industry. "We hope to have a RESPA reform bill delivered to Congress by early next year," Cuomo said.

Cuomo called on mortgage bankers to continue their cooperation with HUD in working to further boost the homeownership rate among minorities, female-headed households and in America's cities.

"The ranks of American homeowners should look like America," Cuomo said. "Not only is it fundamental to the President's vision for one America -- it's one of the greatest untapped homebuying markets of tomorrow."

The U.S. homeownership rate rose to 65.7 percent in the second quarter of 1997 -- the highest quarterly rate in nearly 17 years. Cuomo said 67.1 million American households now own their homes -- the highest number in U.S. history and an increase of 5.3 million since President Clinton took office in 1993.

Among whites, the homeownership rate rose 0.5 percentage point to 72.1 percent during the quarter. However, while the homeownership rate for minorities edged up by 0.4 percentage point during the quarter it was only 45.7 percent. Female-headed households increased their homeownership rate by 0.8 percentage point to 51.3 percent.

The central city homeownership rate rose slightly by 0.1 percentage point to 49.9 percent. The suburban homeownership rate rose by 0.5 percentage point to 72.6 percent.

"We must continue making a special effort to reduce the gap in homeownership between whites and minorities, between households headed by women and other households, and between our suburbs and our cities," Cuomo said. "For far too many hard-working American families, homeownership remains an unfulfilled dream."

Cuomo said the National Partners in Homeownership -- a coalition of 63 national groups representing the housing industry, lenders, non-profit groups and all sectors of government -- has played a key role in increasing the homeownership rate. HUD created the Partnership at President Clinton's direction in 1995, as part of the President's National Homeownership Strategy. HUD also helped create 123 local partnerships modeled after the National Partnership in communities around the country.

Cuomo said the nation is on track to reaching President Clinton's goal of an all-time high homeownership rate of 67.5 percent by the end of the year 2000. The increase would be achieved by boosting the number of homeowners by 8 million from the beginning of 1995. The number of homeowners has increased by 3.1 million since 1995.

The latest quarterly homeownership rate of 65.7 percent nearly equals the previous record of 65.8 percent set in the third quarter of 1980. The rate is the second-highest quarterly rate since quarterly statistics were first tabulated in 1965.


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