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HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 98-194
Further Information:For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685Thursday
Or contact your local HUD officeMay 14, 1998


WASHINGTON - Acting Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Art Agnos issued the following statement on legislation proposed in Congress today called The American Homeownership Act of 1998:

"President Clinton's successful economic and housing policies boosted America's homeownership rate to the highest annual level in our history last year - 65.7 percent of all households. The rate rose to 65.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. Today a record 68 million American families own their homes - 6.2 million more families than when the President took office.

The President's proposed 1999 Budget and other legislation proposed by HUD contains important and proven initiatives to increase homeownership even more. These include: a higher FHA loan limit; the most funding ever to fight housing discrimination; Empowerment Vouchers to enable people receiving housing assistance to become homeowners; and additional funding for a HOME bank, Homeownership Zones, and homeownership counseling. Many of the proposals in the legislation announced today echo programs HUD already has underway or has proposed to Congress.

Introducing eleventh-hour legislation in the closing days of the Congressional session may create news, but it won't create new homeowners. With so few working days left in this session, the best options for expanding homeownership opportunities before Congress adjourns are contained in the President's 1999 Budget and other HUD legislation. These important homeownership initiatives already have the support of dozens of leading advocacy groups and of many members of the Congress from both parties. They have been the subject of multiple Congressional hearings.

The President's proposals would open the door to homeownership to more American families, and would strengthen our economy, create jobs, help revitalize communities and make money for taxpayers. Instead of playing political games with the American Dream of homeownership, it is time to work to make the dream come true."


  • Increasing the limit on home mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration to a uniform nationwide cap of $227,150. This would open the door to homeownership to middle-class families needing FHA insurance to get mortgages, but locked out because the current outdated ceilings have not kept pace with rising home prices. Homebuyers in high-cost housing areas, such as the New York City area, would particularly benefit.

  • $22 million in increased funding to fight housing discrimination in 1999, for a total of $52 million - a 73 percent increase over this year. The additional funds would enable HUD to intensify the crackdown on housing discrimination that the Department began in September at President Clinton's direction. Housing discrimination is a major roadblock to increased minority homeownership.

  • Legislation to allow working families who receive rental assistance vouchers from HUD under the Section 8 program to convert the rental vouchers into new Empowerment Vouchers that will enable them to buy homes.

  • $11 million to establish a HOME Bank in 1999 that will provide $100 million in loan guarantees to enable localities to finance more homeownership and rental developments.

  • $25 million in new funds in 1999 for Homeownership Zones - large-scale revitalization areas that create neighborhoods of single-family homes, promoting homeownership in inner cities.

  • $5 million in increased funds for homeownership counseling to boost homeownership, for a total of $25 million in 1999 - a 25 percent increase.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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