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Expanding Homeownership Opportunities for All Americans
On December 16, 2003, President Bush signed into law the American Dream Downpayment Act of 2003, which will help approximately 40,000 families a year with their down payment and closing costs, and further strengthen Americas housing market. This legislation complements the Presidents aggressive housing agenda announced in 2002 to dismantle the barriers to homeownership.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Census Bureau released data showing that new home construction in November reached its highest level in nearly 20 years. Overall housing starts rose 4.5 percent from October and rose 17.6 percent from November of 2002. Single-family housing starts totaled 1,695,000 (SAAR) in November, up 3.3 percent from October and up 20.8 percent from November 2002 a record for single-family starts.
The strong housing market is beneficial for communities across the Nation. Americas families have been refinancing due to the lowest mortgage rates in 45 years, saving hundreds of dollars a month on their home payments. The U.S. homeownership rate was 68.4% in the third quarterits highest level ever.
The biggest barrier to homeownership is often accumulating funds for a down payment. In June 2002, President Bush proposed the American Dream Downpayment Fund to help low-income families take much-needed steps to own a home of their own, and announced the goal of increasing the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million before the end of the decade.
President Bushs aggressive housing agenda to dismantle the barriers to homeownership includes providing down payment assistance through the American Dream Downpayment Fund; increasing the supply of affordable homes through the Single-Family Affordable Housing Tax Credit; increasing support for self-help homeownership programs like Habitat for Humanity; simplifying the home-buying process; and increasing home-buying education.
Dismantling the Barriers to Homeownership
President Bush issued Americas 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. The Bush Administration and the Americas Homeownership Challenge partners in the private sector are working hard to increase minority homeownership, and are seeing positive results:
Strengthening Economic Activity
According to an analysis released in 2002 by HUD, meeting the Presidents goal to close the housing gap will involve $256 billion in economic activity in the form of construction and remodeling jobs, spending on household goods, and other benefits. Because of rising home values, Americans are enjoying more than $2.5 trillion of greater housing wealth than they did at the beginning of 2001.
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