June 17, 2002
President Bush Calls for Expanding Opportunities to Home Ownership
But my attitude is, if somebody can't find work and they want to work, we've got to continue to work on expanding the job base. And part of economic security is owning your own home. (Applause.) Part of being a secure America is to encourage homeownership.
So somebody can say, this is my home, welcome to my home.
Now, we've got a problem here in America that we have to address. Too many American families, too many minorities do not own a home. There is a home ownership gap in America. The difference between Anglo America and African American and Hispanic home ownership is too big. (Applause.) And we've got to focus the attention on this nation to address this.
And it starts with setting a goal. And so by the year 2010, we must increase minority home owners by at least 5.5 million. In order to close the homeownership gap, we've got to set a big goal for America, and focus our attention and resources on that goal. (Applause.)
And what we've got to do is to figure out how to make sure these stories are repeated over and over and over again in America. Three-quarters of white America owns their homes. Less than 50 percent of African Americans are part of the homeownership in America. And less than 50 percent of the Hispanics who live here in this country own their home. And that has got to change for the good of the country.
It just does. (Applause.)
And so here are some of the ways to address the issue. First, the single greatest barrier to first time homeownership is a high downpayment.
It is really hard for many, many, low income families to make the high downpayment. And so that's why I propose and urge Congress to fully fund the American Dream Downpayment Fund. This will use money, taxpayers' money to help a qualified, low income buyer make a downpayment.
And that's important.
One of the barriers to homeownership is the inability to make a downpayment. And if one of the goals is to increase homeownership, it makes sense to help people pay that downpayment.
We believe that the amount of money in our budget, fully approved by Congress, will help 40,000 families every year realize the dream of owning a home. (Applause.) Part of the success of Park Place is that the city of Atlanta already does this. And we want to make the plan more robust. We want to make it more full all across America.
Secondly, there is a lack of affordable housing
in certain neighborhoods. Too many neighborhoods, especially in inner city America, lack affordable housing units. How can you promote homeownership if people can't afford a home?
And so what I've done is propose what we call a Single Family Affordable Housing Tax Credit, to encourage the development of affordable housing in neighborhoods where housing is scarce. (Applause.) Over five years, the initiative amounts to $2.4 billion in tax credits
. And that will help. It will help a lot to build homes where people can -- where when fully implemented, people will be able to say, I own my home.
A third major barrier is the complexity and difficulty of the home buying process
. There's a lot of fine print on these forms. And it bothers people, it makes them nervous. And so therefore, what Mel has agreed to do, and Alphonso Jackson has agreed to do is to streamline the process, make the rules simpler, so everybody understands what they are -- makes the closing much less complicated.
We certainly don't want there to be a fine print preventing people from owning their home. We can change the print, and we've got to. We've got to be wise about how we deal with the closing documents and all the regulations, but also wise about how we help people understand what it means to own their home and the obligations and the opportunities.
And so, therefore, education is a critical component of increasing ownership
throughout America. Financial education, housing counseling, how to help people understand that there are unscrupulous lenders. And so one of the things we're going to do is we're going to promote education, the education of owning a home, the education of buying a home throughout our society. And we want to fully implement the Section 8 housing program, homeownership program. The program will provide vouchers that first-time home buyers can use to help pay their mortgage or apply to their downpayment
And so these are important initiatives that we can do at the federal government. And the federal government, obviously, has to play an important role, and we will. We will. I mean, when I lay out a goal, I mean it. But we also have got to bring others into the process, most particularly the real estate industry.
After all, the real estate industry benefits when people are encouraged to buy homes. It's in their self interest that we encourage people to buy homes. (Applause.)
And so one of the things that I'm going to talk about a little bit today is how to create a sustained commitment by the private sector that will have a powerful impact. First of all, we want to make sure that we help work to expand capital available to buyers,
and as I mentioned, overcome the barriers that I've delineated, as well as provide the education component. In other words, this is not just a federal responsibility.
That's why I've challenged the industry leaders all across the country to get after it for this goal, to stay focused, to make sure that we achieve a more secure America, by achieving the goal of 5.5 million new minority home owners. I call it America's home ownership challenge.
And let me talk about some of the progress which we have made to date, as an example for others to follow. First of all, government sponsored corporations that help create our mortgage system -- I introduced two of the leaders here today -- they call those people Fannie May and Freddie Mac, as well as the federal home loan banks, will increase their commitment to minority markets by more than $440 billion.
(Applause.) I want to thank Leland and Franklin for that commitment. It's a commitment that conforms to their charters, as well, and also conforms to their hearts.
This means they will purchase more loans made by banks after Americans, Hispanics and other minorities, which will encourage homeownership. Freddie Mac will launch 25 initiatives to eliminate homeownership barriers. Under one of these, consumers with poor credit will be able to get a mortgage with an interest rate that automatically goes down after a period of consistent payments.
Fannie Mae will establish 100 partnerships with faith-based organizations that will provide home buyer education and help increase homeownership for their congregations. I love the partnership.