It Is Not Impossible
This week has been a great week for helping families in search of achieving the American dream, finding and obtaining affordable quality housing.
A bill which I authored, with my colleague Representative Sean Duffy, H.R. 5793, the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act of 2018, passed on the House floor by a vote of 368-19.
This bill will help families who have been stuck in a continuing circle of poverty move out of those areas and into neighborhoods with better opportunities.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, (HUD) will work with public housing agencies to form regional consortia to help families who participate in the Housing Voucher program to move into neighborhoods that offer better living conditions. Experts agree that children who live in areas with increased opportunities are more likely to go to college and obtain higher paying jobs.
When I think of families who are struggling to overcome poverty, I’m reminded of my family. My parents worked very hard to provide a better life for myself and my three siblings. We lived in a small shack in Texas until I was about 7 years old and until we were able to move into public housing. I keep a picture of that shack in my office to remind me from where I came. I understand the need to help people achieve that goal. It is not always easy, and I’m thankful that the Members of the House of Representatives recognized that by passing this bill.
I also had the privilege of attending an important announcement of a new housing initiative by Wells Fargo & Company in my district. Wells Fargo announced a program that aims to help low to medium-income families own their first home. It’s called NeighborhoodLift and it offers homebuyer education plans, plus $15,000 in down payment assistance for qualified applicants and even more funds to veterans, teachers, and first responders.
According to HUD, A 2005 HUD study concluded that small amounts of down payment assistance can be very effective and as little as $1,000 can lead to a 19-percent increase in the number of low-income households buying a home. Down payment assistance of up to $10,000 can lead to a 34-percent increase in overall homeownership.
Minority homeownership is still low, below 50 percent compared to 73.5 percent of white families and the homeownership rate for households with very low incomes was 43.8 percentage points below the rate for high-income households, according to HUD.
It can be a daunting task to buy your first home and significant barriers, such as not having enough for a down payment, or credit issues prevent a lot of people from moving forward. But it is not impossible. And I’m glad there are programs that give people what they need and most importantly, give people hope.
Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress