September 30, 2021

Senator Reverend Warnock Introduces Legislation to Support First-Generation Home Buyers, Pushes for Inclusion in Build Back Better Economic Package

Senate Banking Chairman Brown, along with Sens. Kaine, Van Hollen, Warren, and Warner, joined Senator Reverend Warnock in introducing the legislation

Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced new legislation to help millions access the benefits of homeownership and provide a pathway to financial security and housing stability across the country. The Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021 would provide federal grants, administered through local entities, to aid first-generation homebuyers with qualifying expenses toward purchasing their first home—including downpayment costs, closing costs, and costs to reduce the rates of interest. The legislation addresses growing concerns regarding rising home prices, lack of access to home-buying assistance, and the widening wealth and homeownership gaps in Georgia and throughout the country.

“Housing means dignity, security and dignity for so many across our country, but because of lack of generational wealth, many hardworking families are kept from living their dream of homeownership due to steep downpayment costs. As housing prices continue to rise, this legislation is designed to give working, financially-stable families a hand-up and remove one of the key barriers that prevents too many people from being able to purchase a home, start building wealth, and sow economically back into our communities.” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I am proud to introduce this bill to help first-generation homebuyers make their homeownership dreams a reality, and with the strong backing of lawmakers in the House and Senate, and the support of numerous housing advocates in Georgia and nationwide, I believe we can get this done.”

“Congress can and must act to help more families achieve the dream of homeownership, particularly Black and brown Americans who have faced barriers for far too long,” said Chairman Brown. “I am proud to join Senator Warnock and my colleagues in introducing this bill which will give more people the opportunity to become the first in their family to own their own home, and to build wealth through homeownership.”

The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Mark Warner (D-VA). Accompanied legislation was introduced in the U.S. House by Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, and has received enthusiastic support from housing, homeownership, and racial equity organizations across the country.

Senator Warnock has been a strong advocate for alleviating disparities in housing and providing tools for all those seeking safe and stable living environments. Georgia, particularly in the Atlanta metropolitan area, has seen a decline in homeownership while home prices have gradually increased—a issue the Downpayment Toward Equity Act seeks to help address.

“Securing enough cash for down payment and closing costs is one of the biggest barriers to homeownership, particularly as home prices reach record highs across the country.  This is especially true for families of color who often lack access to intergenerational, inherited wealth.  The Down Payment Toward Equity Act provides critically needed financial assistance to first-generation home buyers to help them achieve the American dream of homeownership and begin to build wealth to send children to college, start a small business, save for retirement or pass down to their grandchildren. As we work to expand the supply of affordable housing, our buyers need access to down payment assistance programs that will help close the racial homeownership and related wealth gaps. We commend Senator Warnock for this important step toward achieving wealth equity,” said John O’Callaghan, President and CEO of Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP).

“Safe affordable housing lives at the intersection of health, safety, educational attainment, and wealth building. I would argue that solving the affordable housing crisis is in the best interest of each of us and in the best interest of our children and our country.The Downpayment Toward Equity Act will be a valuable tool in helping many families close the affordability gap and become homeowners. As Georgia and the metro-Atlanta population rises, Senator Warnock is working to ensure everyone, regardless of their demographics, has the necessary tools to establish foundation and elevate in our society and economy,” said Cathy Williams, President and CEO of NeighborWorks Columbus.

“Whether you live in coastal Georgia or metro Atlanta, owning a home builds intergenerational family wealth and strengthens our communities. This bill targets the racial homeownership inequity of our own making caused by the exclusionary housing policies of the 1930s, racial segregation and the dual credit market. We must make every effort to resolve this disparity,” said Wayne Dawson, Executive Director of Savannah-Chatham County Fair Housing Council.

The Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021 has vast statewide and national support. See a full list of endorsers here.

Read the full bill text here. Read one-pager here