January 20, 2003
BUSH ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES $10 MILLION INCREASE FOR HOUSING COUNSELING
$45 million will help add more minority homeowners
WASHINGTON - Making good on the Bush Administration's plans to increase minority homeownership, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today announced a proposal to increase funding for the department's Housing Counseling Grant Program to $45 million. Today's announcement is part of President Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget request of Congress and represents a $10 million increase over what was requested for fiscal year 2003.
Last year, President Bush proposed $35 million for HUD's Housing Counseling Grant Program to help an estimated 700,000 persons and families to either find housing or keep the homes they have. Today's additional $10 million request would assist 250,000 more lower-income individuals and families to find and maintain homes. Since taking office, the Bush Administration proposed to more than double funding to this counseling program - from $20 million to $45 million.
"It's not enough that we help families get housing, we must help them keep housing," said Martinez. "Housing counseling is an important part of this Administration's goal to expand homeownership opportunities, particularly for minority families who want to make their American Dream come true."
Counseling is also a fundamental part HUD's effort to combat predatory lending. First-time minority homebuyers are especially vulnerable to predatory lending practices. Housing counseling is one of the most cost-effective ways to educate borrowers on matters such as inflated appraisals, interest rates and the mortgage settlement process.
In addition, housing counseling grants enable homebuyers, homeowners and renters to get the counseling they need to improve their housing conditions and be responsible owners and renters. By improving the quality of renter and homeowner education, these families make better, more informed home purchases, improve their ability to budget for needed home expenses and make the lending process less intimidating.
Census figures indicate that while nearly 70 percent of all Americans own their own homes, less than half of African-American and Hispanic families are homeowners. In last year's State of the Union address, President Bush proposed closing this "homeownership gap" by adding 5.5 million minority homeowners by the end of the decade.
Last fall, HUD hosted the White House Conference on Minority Homeownership highlighting solutions to the obstacles minority families face as they pursue the American Dream as well as the considerable social and economic benefits of expanding homeownership opportunities to would-be first time homeowners.
Numerous private and nonprofit organizations joined the Administration in forming The Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership, a collaborative effort to advance the President's goal. This partnership developed a strategy that included educating more people in the homebuying process in order to meet the President's goal.
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.