April 2, 2003
MARTINEZ ANNOUNCES NEW HUD PARTNERSHIP WITH REAL ESTATE GROUPS TO HELP ELIMINATE HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
Initiative Underscores Bush Administration's Commitment for Fair and Equal
Treatment in the Housing Market
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez and representatives from four national real estate associations today marked the beginning of Fair Housing Month by pledging to work together towards eliminating housing discrimination. Today's partnership is another step towards educating individuals of their rights under the Fair Housing Act and to ensure that the law is vigorously enforced.
"Today we are joining forces with the real estate industry to build on
our shared commitment to enforcing the fair housing laws and educating individuals
of their rights," said Martinez. "Over two-thirds of the new households
being formed this decade will be minority and immigrant and we must recognize
that a strong commitment to fair and equal treatment in the housing market will
become even more urgent."
To celebrate Fair Housing Month and commemorate the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Martinez was joined today at an event in Washington, D.C., by Carolyn Y. Peoples, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Other participants included John Yen Wong, chairman, National Association of Asian American Real Estate Professionals; Gary E. Acosta, chairman and CEO, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals; Edward C. London, president and CEO, National Association of Real Estate Brokers; and Catherine B. Whatley, president, National Association of Realtors. Lynda Johnson Robb, daughter of President Johnson, also participated in the event.
Today's Memorandum of Understanding outlines the specific steps that each organization will take to help fight housing discrimination. Under the terms of the MOU, HUD will:
- Create an office of Education and Outreach to help the public better understand the rights and responsibilities of people involved in housing transactions.
- Request an additional $10 million for the Housing Counseling Grant Program in fiscal year 2004, bringing the total available to $45 million. With the added funds, another 250,000 low-income families - especially minority and immigrant families - will receive counseling on how to buy and maintain a home.
- Request additional funding for the American Dream Downpayment Initiative in fiscal year 2004 to help more low-income families buy homes. In fiscal year 2003, the $200 million program awarded grants that helped first-time homebuyers lower their interest rates and meet closing costs and down payments.
The National Association of Asian American Real Estate Professionals (NAAAREP) will:
- Develop and promote programs that clarify the benefits and importance of fair housing to real estate professionals, especially those who serve the Asian American community.
- Develop and promote programs that educate Asian American communities about their fair housing rights and responsibilities, including those communities where English is not the primary language.
- Work with HUD and other public and private organizations that focus on fair housing issues to develop and enhance programs that support fair housing education, professionalism and fairness in processing of complaints.
- Work with other real estate organizations to distribute fair housing information.
- Partner with educational institutions and other research entities to quantify data related to the Asian American real estate market.
The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) will:
- Certify 500 NAHREP members with Educational Certification courses that provide training for real estate professionals who serve the Hispanic community and include information regarding fair lending and equal opportunity issues.
- Provide a breakout session at the September 2003 Hispanic Marketing Conference in Austin, Texas, which addresses fair lending and equal opportunity issues.
- Develop relationships with NAHREP members and HUD certified non-profit housing counselors using CounselorMax technology. CounselorMax is a Web-based client management tool that assists housing counselors who work with families through the counseling-to-homeownership process.
The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) will:
- Develop and implement a 100 percent down payment assistance program under the banner of the "NAREB Housing America Fund." This program makes funds available to the home buying public, particularly those who are in minority and underserved communities.
- Counsel more prospective minority homebuyers and those seeking to become first time homebuyers through the NAREB Investment Division.
- Assist families in minority and underserved communities with access to affordable loan products through a commitment with Fannie Mae.
- Use enhanced technology to prepare members to counsel, market and reach more minority families on the advantages of homeownership.
The National Association of Realtors ® will:
- Promote and offer fair housing and diversity training for real estate professionals, including the "At Home with Diversity" training course, which encourages real estate firms to actively include diversity and fair housing in their company strategic plans. Add training material to address the reports of differences in treatment identified in fair housing complaints and studies.
- Continue to encourage state and local REALTOR® associations to partner with HUD field offices, state and local fair housing agencies and private fair housing organizations to address and resolve fair housing issues, including supporting fair housing education, professionalism and fairness in processing of complaints, and increasing public awareness of the benefits of fair housing.
- Through its Housing Opportunity Program, partner with local housing counseling agencies for cross-referrals for homebuyers, particularly in minority communities, and join with selected local REALTOR® associations annually to sponsor homebuyer fairs marketed to minority communities.
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.
For more information about HUD's Fair Housing Month activities or to report housing discrimination, call (800) 669-9777.