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June 5, 2001
BUSH AND MARTINEZ HAMMER HOME MINORITY HOMEOWNERSHIP DURING NATIONAL HOMEOWNERSHIP WEEK
TAMPA, Fla. - Putting hammer to nail, President Bush and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today drove home the need to expand homeownership opportunities for minority families by joining Habitat for Humanity in constructing a home for a Hispanic family in Tampa.
The President is also proposing to triple funding to faith-based and self-help programs like Habitat for Humanity as a means of expanding homeownership opportunities for low-income and minority Americans. HUD funding of such programs would increase from approximately $22 million to more than $66 million.
"All across the country, people want to invest in their own neighborhoods," said Martinez. "Today, faith-based groups like Habitat are unlocking doors and allowing families to move beyond a lifetime of renting and toward owning a stake in their own communities."
Johanna Rodriquez worked side-by-side with Bush and Martinez during today's Habitat event. Johanna and her family came to Florida from Puerto Rico in 1993 where she lives with her mother, sister, brother and her two young children in a crowded two-bedroom apartment. Johanna is helping to satisfy the sweat equity requirement for participating in the program and will shortly become the owner of the new Habitat home.
HUD is the Bush Administration's lead agency in reaching out to faith-based and community organizations across the country as they work to build homeownership opportunities. Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing organization, is an example of faith in action. HUD's newly created Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will work to identify ways to provide equal access to government programs for community and faith-based organizations in providing critical social services.
Recent Census Bureau data indicates more Americans are homeowners that at any time in the nation's history - more than 72 million Americans own their own home, an increase of over 12 million homeowners since the first quarter of 1990. Minority homeownership, however, continues to lag significantly behind the national average. While nearly 68 percent of Americans own their own home, less than half of African-American and Hispanic families are homeowners.
Martinez said, "Homeownership is a powerful tool in building pride in our communities. National Homeownership Week gives us the chance to celebrate our successes while challenging us to continue to work with the faith community to bring the American Dream home to those desperate for a home to call their own."
In addition, President Bush's proposed budget includes several important initiatives to further increase homeownership for all Americans:
American Dream Downpayment Fund. The fund will provide $200 million with HUD's HOME Investment Partnership program to match downpayment assistance and help more than 130,000 low-income families overcome their greatest obstacle to purchasing their first home.
Renewing the Dream Tax Credit. To further promote homeownership opportunities, Bush is proposing $1.7 billion tax credit to support the rehabilitation or new construction of an estimated 100,000 homes for purchase by low-income households over a five-year period.
Hybrid Adjustable Rate Mortgages. HUD is seeking authority to allow FHA to offer low-income families a hybrid adjustable rate mortgage, reducing families' initial homeownership costs by combining a low fixed rate in the early years with a rate that later adjusts with the market.