National Association of Hispanic
Remarks as prepared for delivery by
Real Estate Professionals
Secretary Alphonso Jackson
Tuesday, April 6, 2004
I appreciate your very generous introduction, Gary. You continue
to bring strong leadership to the National Association of Hispanic
Real Estate Professionals. HUD had a great partnership with the
Association under Secretary Martinez, and that's something I intend
to build on beginning today.
I want to welcome your members to Washington. I was hoping that
I'd be able to join you here, but we were waiting for the Senate
to approve my nomination and had no idea when that might happen.
It turns out there's a reason they call the Senate "the more deliberative
body." But they came through late last week, and I'm honored to
be here today making my first public speech as HUD's new Secretary.
I know you're interested in hearing about the Administration's
work to expand minority homeownership. Well, let me tell you: this
is a great time to be talking about homeownership in America.
The economy's getting stronger. More than 300,000 new jobs were
created last month. Incomes are rising. And thanks to President
Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, Americans have more to save, spend,
The President has seized this opportunity, and is encouraging more
families to buy their first homes. In fact, President Bush has done
more than any other president in HUD's nearly 40-year-history to
focus the attention of the nation on the power of homeownership.
I've heard the President talk many times about his vision of an
"ownership society" in which every person has the opportunity to
own a home. The President believes passionately that homeownership
is the key to financial independence, the accumulation of wealth,
and stronger, healthier communities.
In other words, owning a home is a family's quickest path to self-sufficiency.
And I believe there's nothing more important that government can
do for a family than to help them become self-sufficient.
I was with the President in Pennsylvania last month and we were
talking with families about homeownership. The President said, "We
think it's in the best interests of the country that more people
own something. When you own something you call your own, you have
a vital stake in the future of our nation."
A record number of Americans - nearly 69 percent of us - now own
a home. For the first time ever, more than half of all minority
households own homes in their communities.
Despite our success, however, Hispanics and other minorities aren't
sharing equally in the homeownership dream. In fact, there's a "homeownership
gap" in this country, and minority families are far less likely
to own a home. We face a particular challenge in the Hispanic community,
where homeownership has actually dropped a full percentage point
since peaking at 48.8 percent at the end of 2001.
President Bush believes that people from every walk of life should
have an opportunity to become homeowners. So the President took
a bold step and challenged the nation to close the homeownership
gap and create 5.5 million new minority homeowners by the end of
We were very proud to welcome the National Association of Hispanic
Real Estate Professionals on board as an original member of the
Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership, which we're now calling
the "American Dream Team." The National Association of Hispanic
Real Estate Professionals is one of more than two dozen major companies,
nonprofits, and industry groups that have joined with the Administration
to turn the President's goal into reality.
We're well on our way. Since the President issued his homeownership
challenge, more than 1.5 million minority families have joined the
ranks of the nation's homeowners.
The Association is working alongside us to meet the challenge.
I want to commend you for your leadership in promoting financial
literacy in the Hispanic community through programs like Counselor
MAX and CreditSmart Espanol. And I'm glad to see that you're also
focused on educating the industry, through programs that help real
estate professionals better serve Hispanic consumers.
Our Administration is significantly boosting funding for housing
education. The budget we've proposed for the coming year provides
$45 million to help more than a half-million homebuying families
with counseling services. We've more than doubled funding for housing
counseling since 2001.
Last December, the President signed into law the centerpiece of
his homeownership agenda: the American Dream Downpayment Act. Researchers
tell us that high downpayments and closing costs represent the single
greatest barrier to homeownership. The American Dream Downpayment
Act will provide direct assistance to first-time homebuyers, opening
the door to homeownership to some 40,000 families every year. Its
passage is a victory for every family that has found it impossible
until now to come up with enough cash to meet their downpayment
and closing costs.
This year, we're asking Congress to fully fund the American Dream
Downpayment Initiative at $200 million.
The Administration has proposed legislation to help buyers of FHA-insured
homes jump the hurdle of high downpayments. The Zero Downpayment
Mortgage would allow consumers who could otherwise afford a monthly
mortgage payment to qualify for FHA loans without having to come
up with cash at the closing table.
The Zero Down plan is different from assistance programs like the
American Dream Downpayment Act. Instead of granting a lump-sum award
to qualified homeowners, FHA would charge a modestly higher insurance
premium on its Zero Down loans.
To promote the production of affordable housing in areas where
it's scarce, the Administration is proposing a Single-Family Affordable
Housing Tax Credit.
The President's budget for the coming year would provide developers
with nearly $2.4 billion in tax credits to build new homes or rehabilitate
existing structures. We have two goals: to create homeownership
opportunities in distressed neighborhoods and to revitalize these
neighborhoods through increased homeownership.
We're hoping that Congress will enact the Single-Family Affordable
Housing Tax Credit this year, and I'd appreciate your support. This
is an opportunity to make homeownership a reality for 200,000 families
in those areas of the country where affordable homes are needed
When I was with President Bush in suburban Philadelphia recently,
we saw what owning a piece of the American Dream can do for a family
that once considered homeownership nothing more than a fantasy.
For almost four years, Pearl Cerdan had been thinking about buying
a home for herself and her six kids. The homebuying process always
scared her off, though, and she was worried that her credit rating
wasn't good enough to qualify her for a mortgage.
But Pearl heard about the services offered by a local counseling
agency and she began taking homeownership classes. She learned money-management
skills, too, and how to repair her damaged credit. The counseling
service helped her find low-interest financing. Soon she was signing
the papers that made her a first-time homebuyer.
On March 15th, Pearl welcomed the President of the United States
to her front door. And it was with tremendous pride that she said,
"Would you come into my home, please."
By working together, HUD and the National Association of Hispanic
Real Estate Professionals are helping to write stories like Pearl's
each day in this country.
Our work is far from finished, of course. America is the freest
nation on the face of the Earth, with endless opportunities for
anyone willing to take a risk. I think to myself, "God bless America,"
each time I return to this country after being away. But pockets
of despair remain. Some folks wonder if the American Dream is meant
for them, too.
President Bush believes that it's meant for everyone, and he's
dedicated to building a society in which every person - every person
of every hue - can realize the promise of America.
I look forward to working closely with your Association in the
years ahead to lift more Americans toward their dreams. Our work
together so far has yielded great results, but I know that we can
do more together.
Thank you for your commitment. And thank you for the opportunity
to spend time with you this afternoon.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009