June 3, 2003
BUSH ADMINISTRATION LAUNCHES SECOND ANNUAL NATIONAL HOMEOWNERSHIP MONTH
HUD's "Homeownership Express" To Visit Communities Nationwide
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today joined members of Congress and Millard Fuller, founder and president of Habitat for Humanity, to launch National Homeownership Month. Today's event, Congress Building America, is part of a month-long drive by HUD and its partners to expand homeownership opportunities to more Americans, particularly minorities.
"Today we are kicking off Homeownership Month by taking our message of empowering families through homeownership to communities nationwide," said HUD Secretary Mel Martinez. "Homeownership not only strengthens families, but also communities. The Bush Administration has joined forces with numerous private and nonprofit organizations in a collaborative effort to increase homeownership particularly among minorities."
Last year, President Bush announced a goal to create 5.5 million new homeowners by the year 2010, and issued "America's Homeownership Challenge," a call to the real estate and mortgage finance industries to work in partnership to help achieve this goal. The Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership, created last year by Martinez in response to President Bush's call, is a coalition involving many segments of the housing industry.
This partnership developed a strategy that identifies four areas that must be addressed to meet the President's goal including: educating more people in the homebuying process; addressing the affordability issue; providing more downpayment and closing cost assistance; and, offering more home financing options for low to moderate-income Americans.
HUD and its partners are also launching the "Homeownership Express," a national bus tour delivering information about housing counseling, down-payment assistance, flexible mortgage financing and other resources for becoming a homeowner to communities nationwide. Each event hopes to attract potential homebuyers, specifically low to moderate-income minority families, whose homeownership rates have historically lagged well behind others. In fact, recent 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.
As a part of Homeownership Month, on Monday, June 2, 2003, Secretary Martinez participated in "Ask the White House," a 30-minute online discussion that gives people an opportunity to interact electronically with administration officials. The Secretary answered questions from visitors on the importance of homeownership to individuals and the community and questions from other topics. Visit to access the transcript(Was linked to http://www.whitehouse.gov/ask/").
Martinez will also participate in "Ask the White House" in Spanish later this month where he will discuss the importance of homeownership with the Hispanic community.
The Bush Administration has established numerous initiatives that will help more families achieve the American Dream. These initiatives include:
- American Dream Downpayment Fund. This program would provide $200
million to continue to help more Americans reach the dream of homeownership.
Administered under HUD's HOME program, this fund will help an estimated 40,000
low-income families a year to become first-time homeowners.
- Housing Counseling Assistance Program. The President's spending
plan includes an additional $5 million to provide counseling services to lower-income
Americans who wish to become homeowners or who seek affordable rental housing.
The additional funding would bring HUD's Housing Counseling Grant Program
to $45 million, more than double the amount appropriated in FY 2002 and will
help 250,000 additional individuals and families to find and maintain homes.
- Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership. HUD allows local housing agencies
the flexibility to use rental assistance vouchers toward moving low-income
families into homeownership. The housing agencies may either provide mortgage
assistance in lieu of a rental subsidy or offer families a one-time downpayment
grant equaling up to one-year's worth of their rental assistance.
- Single-Family Affordable Tax Credit. To stimulate the production
of affordable homes in distressed communities where such housing is scarce,
the Administration is proposing a tax credit of up to 50 percent of the cost
of new construction or rehabilitation. This tax credit targets low-income
households earning less than 80 percent of an area's median income.
- Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP). President Bush
is proposing $65 million to fund so-called "sweat equity" homeownership
programs. Triple the funding level of 2002, this proposal would provide grants
to support nonprofit organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which requires
low-income families to help construct the homes they will eventually own.
- Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). The budget includes
$2.1 billion, a $113 million, or five percent, increase for the HOME program
to help more than 600 state and local communities finance the costs of land
acquisition, new construction, rehabilitation and down payment assistance.
HOME funding also provides direct rental assistance to low-income people.
- Office of Regulatory Reform. In an effort to break down regulatory barriers that impede the production of affordable housing, HUD will create a new Office of Regulatory Reform which will commit an additional $2 million next year on research efforts to learn more about the nature and extent of these regulatory obstacles. Through this office, researchers will develop the tools needed to measure and ultimately reduce the effects of excessive barriers that restrict the development of affordable housing at the local level.
Beginning in June of 1997, HUD marked a week-long national homeownership observance. However, for the second year in a row, the Bush Administration is highlighting the month of June to underscore the importance of homeownership and to focus national attention on initiatives to expand the American Dream to even more Americans. More information on homeownership month can be found on HUD's website, a new web page especially designed to provide important information and tips about owning a home, and also links to all of The Blueprint for the American Dream Partners. The Spanish-language counterpart is also available.
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.