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HUD No. 02-058
(202) 708-0685
June 10, 2002

HUD Celebrates National Homeownership Month: Helps Denver Families Become Homeowners

DENVER - When Denver couple Lyndel Harrell and Marlai Miller began receiving rental assistance through HUD's Section 8 Program seven years ago, they never imagined that one day they would use that same assistance to pay a mortgage and become homeowners.

As HUD celebrates National Homeownership Month, HUD Assistant Secretary Michael Liu presented symbolic keys to this family and two other Colorado families who will become first-time homebuyers this month with help from HUD's Section 8 Homeownership Initiative. The program allows a family to use a Section 8 voucher to assist with monthly mortgage payments.

Today's homebuyers are individuals who have overcome obstacles to achieve this American Dream. All three families who will close on their homes later this month have met the challenges of their developmental, physical and mental disabilities. Another 21 Colorado families with disabilities have purchased homes through the Section 8 Homeownership Initiative, and many of them attended today's event.

"The Bush Administration and HUD Secretary Mel Martinez are leading the way to promote homeownership for more Americans," said Liu, outside the home Harrell and Miller will purchase later this month. "With courage and perseverance, these families have become homeowners."

"I am pleased to join Secretary Martinez, Assistant Secretary Liu and Regional Director John Carson in celebrating National Homeownership Month," said Senator Wayne Allard, who sent his congratulations to the families. "As the American Dream, homeownership enriches families and neighborhoods and I look forward to helping make that dream come true for more families."

Congresswoman Diana Degette who attended the event said, "The Section 8 Homeownership Program presents an excellent opportunity for low-income people with disabilities to achieve homeownership - a dream that many Americans, of all abilities, share. I commend HUD and our local housing agencies on making this program a reality and a success."

The other two individuals who were presented keys today, William Skinner and Lisa Kovacich, will purchase homes in Pueblo.

Liu, who heads HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing, made the presentations with Norleen Norden, Director of the Supportive Housing and Homeless Programs (SHHP) of the Colorado Department of Human Services, one of the important partners in this effort. SHHP has been working with families with special needs for more than 20 years.

They also recognized all of the partners who made this dream come true for these families. Success in the program relies heavily on a collaboration of efforts by state agencies, realty companies, financial institutions and housing counseling agencies. In addition to SHHP, other partners who assisted these families include: the Department of Agriculture/Office of Rural Development, US Bank of Pueblo, Citywide Financial, Cornerstone Realty, Jones-Healy Realty, the Colorado Housing Finance Authority, Colorado Housing Assistance Corporation, Affordable Housing Consultants, and HERO Alliance.

The Section 8 Homeownership Initiative is designed to promote and support first-time homebuyers. Under this initiative, public housing authorities (PHA) make monthly homeownership assistance payments to help first-time homeowners with monthly expenses, instead of making monthly payments on behalf of families to assist with rent. Monthly expenses include the principal and interest on the mortgage debt, real estate taxes and insurance, and the PHA established allowances for utilities, routine maintenance, and major repairs and replacements.

The amount of the voucher subsidy is the same under the homeownership option as it would be if the family used the voucher for rental assistance. As is the case under the rental program, the family must always pay 30 percent of monthly adjusted income or the PHA established "minimum rent" toward their homeownership expenses.

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet.



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