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 Home > News & Policies > March 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 26, 2004

Fact Sheet: Dismantling the Barriers to Homeownership

Presidential Action

  • President Bush met with first-time homebuyers in New Mexico and Arizona to discuss real results in efforts to dismantle the barriers to homeownership.
  • The strong housing market is beneficial for families across America. New home sales for the month of February, released by the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday, indicate a 24.4% increase from February 2003 -- the third-highest level for new home sales ever. Regionally, new home sales in the West increased by 39.3% from February 2003. Sales of existing homes rose 5.7% from February 2003, as home buyers took advantage of low mortgage interest rates, according to a report issued yesterday by the National Association of Realtors.
  • The overall U.S. homeownership rate was at a record high of 68.6% in the fourth quarter?its highest level ever. The President, in June 2002, announced the goal of increasing the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families before the end of the decade. Only 18 months later, the Census estimates an increase of 1.53 million minority homeowners. In the fourth quarter of 2003 -- for the first time ever -- the majority of minority households are now homeowners. The minority homeownership rate set a new quarterly record of 50.6%, up 1.3 percentage points from the third quarter.
  • As a result of President Bush's pro-growth policies, America's economy is strong and getting stronger. Increased housing prices and new home construction have added nearly $4 trillion to homeowner wealth since the start of 2001. Cash-out refinancing added more than $130 billion to household budgets in the last three years.

President George W. Bush delivers remarks about homeownership at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, March 26, 2004.  White House photo by Eric Draper Background on The President's Homeownership Initiative

President Bush is making a difference in the lives of American home buyers. The President's aggressive housing agenda includes providing down payment assistance through the American Dream Downpayment Initiative; increasing the supply of affordable homes through the Single-Family Affordable Housing Tax Credit; making a difference in the lives of low-income homebuyers with the Zero-Downpayment Initiative; and increasing home-buying education and counseling. President Bush also issued America's Homeownership Challenge to the real estate and mortgage finance industries to encourage them to join the effort to close the gap that exists between the homeownership rates of minorities and non-minorities.

    • President Bush signed the American Dream Downpayment Act into law in December 2003. This fund will help approximately 40,000 families a year with their down payment and closing costs and is set to begin helping families early this spring.
    • Since 2001, President Bush has doubled the funding for housing counseling for families.
    • President Bush proposed the Zero-Downpayment Initiative for Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured single-family mortgages for first-time homebuyers in his FY 2005 budget. FHA projections indicate that this new mortgage product would generate about 150,000 new homeowners in the first year alone.
    • Through America's Homeownership Challenge, more than 2 dozen companies have made commitments to increase minority homeownership, including pledges to provide more than $1.1 trillion in mortgage purchases for minority homebuyers this decade.
  • President Bush's FY 2005 budget supports dismantling the barriers to homeownership by:
    • Requesting $200 million for the American Dream Downpayment Initiative -- making a difference in the lives of low-income homebuyers.
    • Providing $2.5 billion over five years to enact a permanent single-family housing tax credit to increase the supply of affordable single-family homes.
    • Providing $45 million for housing counseling to support agencies counseling families on home-buying -- more than double the amount since 2001.
    • Supporting rural homeownership through the Department of Agriculture with $2.7 billion in home loan guarantees for low- to moderate-income rural residents and $1.1 billion in direct loans for very low to low-income borrowers who are unable to secure a mortgage through a conventional lender. These loans are expected to provide 42,800 homeownership opportunities to rural families across America.