March 10, 2005

American Dream Closer To Reality For Many

Crapo says dream of home ownership priority for June

Washington, D.C. -- Ongoing efforts by Congress to increase the number of Americans who own homes, especially minority groups, will be receiving additional assistance from the Bush Administration through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the current month. June is â??National Home Ownership Month,â?? and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is highlighting several efforts underway in Congress to increase home ownership in the country.Crapo, who serves on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, said, â??While it may sound trite, home ownership is indeed a dream of many families and individuals. Home ownership increases stability in communities and strengthens local economies. That is why successful collaboration between Congress, the Administration, real estate, mortgage finance, and homebuilding industries to increase home ownership throughout the country is so important. I am particularly interested in finding ways to increase home ownership among minorities, and that is a goal that the President has announced this month. Through efforts like the American Dream Downpayment Act, we can make home ownership a reality for many families who once thought it out of reach.â?? Crapo has been heavily involved in the Hispanic Financial Education Coalition in Idaho, which is focused on expanding access to and the use of financial services to Idahoâ??s Hispanic communities. The coalition, in cooperation with the Idaho Housing and Finance Associationâ??s â??Finally Homeâ?? program, works to provide basics on finances for those who may become homeowners. Crapo has also co-sponsored several measures designed to increase home ownership efforts. S. 811, the American Dream Downpayment Act, would provide communities across the country with $200 million in grants to assist first-time homebuyers with down payments and closing costs. A similar bill, H.R. 1276, was introduced in March in the U.S. House of Representatives. S. 875, the Community Development Homeownership Tax Credit Act, would allow an income tax credit for the provision of homeownership and community development. Both bills are pending in the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.â??While home ownership has increased over the past few years, that increase has occurred most dramatically in non-Hispanic white families,â?? stated Crapo. â??Closing costs and down payments present the greatest stumbling blocks for the 47 percent of Hispanic and African-American families who currently do not own their own homes. These efforts will remove barriers to these groups, contributing to the Presidentâ??s goal of establishing 5.5 million new minority homeowners before the end of the decade. Achieving the goal of home ownership promotes self-reliance, pride, and security on the part of families, and reflects principles of individual freedom on which our country was founded.â?? To reach the goal set out by the President of 5.5 million more minority homeowners by the end of the decade, the Administration will be focusing on home ownership counseling and education, affordability, reducing regulatory barriers, down payment and closing cost financial assistance, increasing public/private partnerships to promote construction of affordable housing, and creative financing options. Pending legislation and recently-awarded community block grants are some of the strides that have been made toward these goals. HUD noted that new housing starts last month were the 5th highest ever.# # #