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Bush aims to boost minority home ownership

Bush promoted minority home ownership during a visit to Atlanta on Monday.
Bush promoted minority home ownership during a visit to Atlanta on Monday.  

ATLANTA (CNN) -- President Bush touted his goal Monday of boosting minority home ownership by 5.5 million before the end of the decade through grants to low-income families and credits to developers.

"Too many American families, too many minorities, do not own a home. There is a home ownership gap in America. The difference between African-American and Hispanic home ownership is too big," Bush told a crowd at St. Paul AME Church in Atlanta.

Citing data he used Saturday in his weekly radio address, Bush said that while nearly three-quarters of white Americans own their homes, less than half of African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are homeowners.

He urged Congress to expand the American Dream Down-Payment Fund, which would provide $200 million in grants over five years to low-income families who are first-time home buyers.

The money would be used for down payments, one of the major obstacles to home ownership, Bush said.

It is anticipated that 40,000 low-income families -- receiving about $5,000 each -- would benefit from those grants, he added.

To encourage the construction of single-family homes in neighborhoods where affordable housing is scarce, developers would receive $2.4 billion in tax credits to build lower-cost housing in distressed areas.

The fund also would offer financial education and counseling to protect home buyers from abuses and help them get the best loan terms possible, Bush said.

Bush toured Atlanta's Pryor Road area, where new housing developments are replacing rundown housing projects. One of the new developments is the Villages at Carver.

Bush said he met with several homeowners.

"They're so proud to own their own home," Bush said. "What we've got to do is make sure these stories are repeated over and over."

Bush added, "I do believe in the American dream. I believe there is such a thing as the American dream. And I believe those of us who have been given positions of responsibility must do everything we can to spotlight the dream."

He said, "Owning a home is a part of that dream."

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the federal Home Loan Banks -- the government-sponsored corporations that handle home mortgages -- will increase their commitment to minority markets by more than $440 billion, Bush said.

Under one of the initiatives launched by Freddie Mac, consumers with poor credit will be able to obtain mortgages with interest rates that automatically decline after a period of consistent payments, he added.




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