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HUD & REALTORS JOIN FORCES TO PROMOTE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY & BOOST MINORITY HOMEOWNERSHIP UNDER PRESIDENT'S ONE AMERICA INITIATIVENEW ORLEANS -- The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Association of Realtors today created a historic partnership to help promote equal housing opportunity and increase minority homeownership, as part of President Clinton's One America Initiative, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo announced.
Cuomo, National Association of Realtors President Russell K. Booth, and President-elect R. Layne Morrill signed an agreement today to develop a training and certification program for real estate professionals that "will help transform the dream of homeownership into a reality for hard-working families across our nation," Cuomo said.
The agreement was signed when Cuomo spoke to the National Association of Realtors national convention in New Orleans this morning.
The new training and certification program will be open to the more than 1.5 million real estate professionals across the nation, including those who are not members of the National Association of Realtors.
"This initiative will help advance President Clinton's goal of a nation where the door to the American Dream is open to all," Cuomo said. "It will promote equal opportunity by knocking down barriers to homeownership and by encouraging real estate professionals to go the extra mile to help create One America. I applaud the National Association of Realtors for joining in partnership with HUD to achieve these goals."
A key factor leading to creation of the initiative was the desire of HUD and NAR to work together to help reduce the gap between the homeownership rate for whites and minorities. While minorities are largely responsible for pushing the current homeownership rate to an all-time high of 66 percent, only 45.8 percent of African Americans and 43 percent of Hispanics own their own homes -- compared with 72.3 percent of whites.
"Common sense tells us this huge homeownership gap must be closed," Cuomo said. "By doing so, realtors will earn more dollars and cents."
Under the certification program, the National Association of Realtors will train real estate professionals to implement Fair Housing Act principles and find ways to open up housing markets to minorities and others who historically have had limited housing choices.
In addition to passing the new training course, real estate professionals will have to be free of any violations under the Fair Housing Act to receive certification under the new program.
The Fair Housing Act bars housing discrimination on account of race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status and national origin. The Act covers the sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation.
Real estate professionals who are certified under the new program will be able to use the new One America logo in advertising and promotional materials. The symbol will enable homebuyers to identify real estate professionals committed to equal housing opportunity, and is expected to be a valuable marketing tool that will help certified real estate professionals attract additional clients.
"The One America logo will be like a Good Housekeeping Seal of approval for realtors," Cuomo said. "It will show a clear commitment to equal opportunity in housing. By increasing homeownership, it will be good for all Americans, good for our economy, and good for the real estate industry."
"This program will help practitioners become more familiar with working with minority groups, with people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, and will encourage more people of diverse ethnic backgrounds to join the real estate industry," Morrill said. "Increasing our emphasis on market diversity is an excellent way for real estate practitioners to be more responsive to the changing demographics of today's homebuyers."
HUD plans to publicize the use of the One America logo through its Federal Housing Administration. NAR will make information available about the program, which is scheduled to begin in the spring, through its internal communications channels.
Cuomo said he envisions similar programs in the future for other housing-related professionals, such as appraisers, mortgage bankers, insurance companies, and home inspectors.
NAR will develop training materials for the new initiative, and review them with HUD to ensure that they are consistent with the Fair Housing Act and the President's One America Initiative.
In addition to the new initiative, current NAR efforts include: developing tools to help real estate firms recruit and manage a diverse workforce, providing guidance on expanding marketing efforts designed to reach all population groups, addressing the business and political needs of minority members, and identifying and encouraging diversity within the leadership of the Association.
Here are key details of the memorandum of understanding between HUD and NAR signed today: