HUD No. 03-106
October 9, 2003
MARTINEZ EXPANDS 'REACHING THE DREAM' INITIATIVE IN FOUR CITIES
Homeownership initiative designed to include more faith-based and community
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez today announced four more cities will participate in the Reaching the Dream Initiative to encourage more faith-based and smaller grassroots organizations across America to promote homeownership. The Reaching the Dream initiative will help faith-based and community grassroots organizations in Atlanta, Albuquerque, Chicago and, Nashville to establish homebuyer awareness programs in these areas.
Earlier this year, Martinez announced Portland, Oregon would help inaugurate
the program. By expanding the initiative, HUD will help faith-based and other
grassroots groups at the neighborhood level in all five cities as each develops
partnerships within their lending community to tailor mortgage products and
other resources to meet the needs of the people they serve.
"We want to encourage faith-based and other community organizations to join us as we work to make the dream of homeownership a reality for anyone who seeks it," said Martinez. "Each of these cities will receive training to create and run effective homebuyer education courses and outreach campaigns in their communities."
The Reaching the Dream initiative is designed to bring faith-based and community organizations, financial institutions, local officials and others together to address the needs of first-time homebuyers in their communities.
Nearly 70 percent of all Americans own their own homes yet less than half of all African-American and Hispanic families are homeowners. To close this "homeownership gap," the Bush Administration issued a challenge to increase minority homeownership by 5.5 million families by the end of the decade. Accomplishing this national goal will require legislative and regulatory changes that remove barriers that exclude faith-based and smaller grassroots organizations from federal grant programs. Funding opportunities vary widely across the federal agencies, making it disproportionately difficult for smaller grassroots organizations to take advantage of federal grant programs. In addition, the applications process for these grant programs is often too complicated for smaller community organizations to navigate.
This year HUD's Housing Counseling Program will provide $35 million in grants to established counseling organizations around the country. In turn, these organizations help low- and moderate-income renters to cross the threshold into homeownership. For fiscal year 2004, President Bush is proposing to increase this program to $45 million. As part of the Reaching the Dream initiative, HUD has published a brochure for faith-based and community organizations entitled "5 Steps to Becoming a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency" to assist grassroots organizations seeking to qualify for the grant program.
The Bush Administration believes faith-based and other community grassroots organizations are uniquely suited to provide homebuyer education to lower income first-time homebuyers. Because of the depth of their roots in communities, faith-based organizations can do a great deal to increase homeownership in America. To learn more about how faith-based or community grassroots organizations can encourage homeownership, visit the Internet.
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.