Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing today on the important and timely issue of Homeownership.
Owning a home is not just the preferred way of life for most Americans; It is "the American dream." For most Americans, their home is their largest asset – their primary source of wealth. It provides a financial cushion to families who can use home equity to invest in things like education and small business opportunities.
Home ownership is not just good for individuals and families – it is also good for the community. It stabilizes neighborhoods. It is a source of pride for the owners, and that translates to community involvement and a safe place for children.
While a record 68 percent of American families do own their home today, there are many more who would if it were not for a few barriers standing in their way. Congress, working with the Administration and the private sector, must do more to educate people on the home-buying process, to provide more downpayment and closing cost assistance to first time homebuyers and to grow home financing options for low and moderate income Americans.
Last year, Secretary Martinez announced the Blueprint for the American Dream in response to the President’s call to create 5.5 million new minority homeowners by the year 2010. I have joined my colleagues on this Committee in cosponsoring a number of bills which would advance several elements of that blueprint.
Senator Dorgan and I have also introduced, along with Senator Johnson and others, The New Homestead Act, which would help individuals and families who make a commitment to live and work in rural America to afford a home in their community. It is by helping families establish roots in our rural communities that we will enable small town America to survive. I hope that my colleagues on this Committee will take a look at that bill and help us in our efforts there.
I look forward to hearing from today’s panel about the progress that has been made on the Blueprint.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.