|Bush to Help Minorities Buy Homes|
Calling a home the "foundation for families and a source of stability for communities," President Bush has proposed three new initiatives designed to enhance existing federal home buyer assistance programs by helping African- and Hispanic-Americans buy homes.
According to the White House, fewer than half of all African and Hispanic Americans currently own their homes, compared to nearly three-fourths of white Americans. "We must begin to close this homeownership gap by dismantling the barriers that prevent minorities from owning a piece of the American dream," said the President in a nationwide radio address.
To close the homeownership gap, President Bush proposed legislation funding the following new initiatives:
American Dream Down
This program would provide money to qualified low-income families to assist in making the down payment on a home. "The single greatest hurdle to first time homeownership is a high down payment requirement that can put a home out of reach," said President Bush. White House analysts estimate that the American Dream Fund will assist some 40,000 low-income families annually in making down payments on homes.
Tax Credits to Create Affordable Housing
This proposed initiative would provide home-builders and developers with nearly $2.4 billion in tax credits for building affordable single-family housing in distressed areas. The tax credits would help make 200,000 new affordable homes available to low-income buyers over the next five years.
Home Buyer Education
To assist home buyers deal with the complexity and difficulty of the purchasing process, this program would provide funds to agencies working to better educated first-time home buyers. Consumers would be advised of their rights and responsibilities as home buyers, and trained to recognize and avoid abusive and unscrupulous lending practices. "Financial education and housing counseling can help protect home buyers against abuses, greatly improve the loan terms they are offered, and help families get through tough times with their homes intact," said President Bush
"Owning a home lies at the heart of the American dream," Bush said. "My approach to broadening home ownership focuses on empowering people to help themselves and to help one another."
Help Already Available
While the new minority home buyer assistance programs proposed by President Bush will require the approval of Congress, the federal government already offers several programs designed to assist and educate prospective home buyers.
- Low Down Payments -- A guide to buying a home with as little as five percent down.
- HUD-Insured Loans for Home Buyers -- Available from local HUD-approved lenders, these loans are designed to help a wide range of home buyers including the elderly and persons with poor credit histories.
- Local Housing Counseling -- HUD funds housing counseling agencies throughout the country offering advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, credit issues and reverse mortgages.
- Buying a Home -- HUD's guide to everything you need to know about buying a home from your rights under the fair housing laws, to deciding how much you can afford to pay, to how to shop for mortgage loans and more.
- Buy a HUD Home and Save -- Whenever a lender forecloses on a home insured with a HUD mortgage, HUD auctions off the home for no more than its current market value. Needless to say, with profit removed from the equation, home buyers nationwide can find some real bargains here.
All federal housing and housing assistance programs are coordinated through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).