April 8, 2003
MARTINEZ ENDORSES AMERICAN DREAM LEGISLATION TO INCREASE HOMEOWNERSHIP AMONG LOWER INCOME FAMILIES
House & Senate bills help meet President's goal of adding 5.5 million more
WASHINGTON - A bi-partisan bill supporting the Bush Administration's American Dream Downpayment Initiative will open the door of homeownership to 40,000 more low-income and minority families by helping to offset the upfront costs of buying a home. That was the message Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez delivered today in testimony to members of the House Financial Services Committee.
Rep. Katherine Harris is co-sponsoring legislation along with 35 other House
members to authorize the downpayment assistance program. Sen. Wayne Allard is
introducing similar legislation today in the Senate. This year, Congress appropriated
$75 million to fund the American Dream Downpayment Initiative and President
Bush is proposing another $200 million in fiscal year 2004. Qualifying families
will receive an average of $5,000 to be used toward downpayment and closing
"The downpayment is one of the major barriers to homeownership for many families," said Martinez. "This bill will help lower income and minority families realize the American dream. Not only will the bill create more homeowners, but it will help build and strengthen entire communities."
Allard said, "When more Americans share in the dream of owning their own home, we all win. Homeownership represents a path to prosperity that leaves people feeling more invested in their own neighborhoods and creates safer, more stable communities."
"The American Dream Downpayment Act will provide thousands of men, women, and children across our nation with the dignity, stability and economic empowerment of homeownership. I look forward to helping President Bush and Secretary Martinez achieve this visionary means of fulfilling the moral imperative of extending quality, affordable housing to every American," said Harris.
Census figures indicate that while nearly 70 percent of all American households are homeowners, less than half of African-American and Hispanic families own their own homes. Intent on closing this homeownership gap, President Bush issued the "Homeownership Challenge" to increase minority homeownership by 5.5 million by the end of the decade.
The American Dream Downpayment Initiative will be administered under HUD's HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). Since its inception, the HOME Program has played a vital role in addressing the shortages of affordable rental housing and homeownership in communities nationwide. For more information about the American Dream Downpayment Initiative, visit http://archives.hud.gov/news/2002/addfund.cfm.
Last year HUD released a report that concludes adding 5.5 million minority homeowners will stimulate an additional $256 billion in benefits to the housing sector of the U.S. economy. In addition, HUD created The Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership, a coalition involving every segment of the housing industry to build broad-based support of the President's goal of increasing homeownership opportunities for minority families. HUD and its partners hope to meet the President's challenge by:
- Educating more people in the home buying process;
- Increasing the supply of affordable homes;
- Providing more downpayment and closing cost assistance; and,
- Offering more home financing options for lower income Americans.
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.