Realizing the American Dream of Homeownership
The economy has been expanding for more than two years, consumer confidence is growing, we have created 1.5 million jobs in less than a year and homeownership is skyrocketing to the highest level on record.
The American dream has traditionally encompassed homeownership, largely because owning a home has historically been the best opportunity most families have of creating wealth.
In addition to being a sound investment, homeownership means that folks have a stake in where they live. It tends to benefit our neighborhoods since typically owners improve their property, take pride in their community and develop deeper roots and higher levels of involvement.
Since 1996, total home sales in the U.S. have increased 66 percent, while the median sales price for homeowners has increased 64 percent. A record nearly 69 percent of Americans now own their own home. More families own more homes with more equity than ever before. In fact, a recent poll by the Homeownership Alliance, found that 85 percent agree that a home is a more secure investment than the current stock market.
It is important to note that this jump in homeownership rates didn't just happen by chance. President Bush's American Dream Downpayment Act, passed by Congress with my support and signed into law last year, will help about 40,000 families a year with their downpayment and closing costs. Already it is beginning to assist families in neighborhoods throughout America.
Additionally, since 2001 we have doubled funding for family housing counseling. The President has worked with Congress to partner with businesses, and faith-based groups to create 5.5 million new minority homeowners by 2010. During the past 18 months, over 1.5 million minority families have already made this dream a reality.
More recently, the President's FY2005 budget calls for $2.5 billion over 5 years to support a permanent single-family housing tax credit to increase the supply of affordable single family homes. The budget would also provide $45 million for housing counseling to support agencies counseling families on home-buying - more than double the amount since 2001.
Of particular interest to folks in the Sixth District, it also strengthens 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 conventional mortgage. These loans are expected to provide nearly 43,000 homeownership opportunities to rural families across America.
America is on the upswing economically. A natural by-product of solid economic growth is an increase in homeownership. For more and more families the dream of owning their own home, an often foundational part of the
American experience, is now a reality.