Denver, (EFE) - A new plan aimed at helping minorities purchase their first homes is expected to raise the number of Hispanic and black homeowners by 18 million in 10 years, U.S. Housing Secretary Mel Martinez said here Thursday.
Martinez arrived in Denver to inaugurate "The Point," a multi-use building located in the heart of one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. The Point will contain apartments, offices and businesses.
"This building is an excellent example of the joint work between the federal and state governments and private businesses," Martinez said.
"It is also an example of the Bush administration's commitment to having 18 million new homeowners by 2012," he noted.
A new plan drafted by mortgage bank Fannie Mae, called the American Dream Commitment, is part of a program launched in 1998 and expanded by Bush in 2000.
The total cost of the project will exceed $18 billion. The funds will go to states, cities, private companies and community organizations to help minorities purchase homes.
Martinez chose to inaugurate the program in Denver because Colorado is the state with the most programs to help first-time home buyers. It is also one of the few states in which employers can pay the downpayment for the homes of their employees.
"Colorado is moving toward helping more families make the American Dream a reality," Martinez said.
The state will receive $3.5 billion, which will benefit some 200,000 families between now and 2007.
Martinez also outlined other federal initiatives aimed at helping those seeking to purchase homes, including a community education program to prevent usury and fraud and another program in which the government pays the downpayment on homes purchased by minorities.
Sen. Wayne Allard, a Colorado Republican, is currently preparing the laws necessary to implement the program.
"Affordable housing is the priority of President Bush because it is one of the most pressing issues in Colorado and the entire country," Allard said.
"The American Dream Downpayment Act that I presented before the Senate will enable those families, whose only difficulty in purchasing a home is that they do not have the money for the downpayment, to receive that money and purchase the home," he noted.
The proposal must first be approved by the Senate and then by the House of Representatives, Allard said, adding that he was confident the program would be in effect by the end of 2003 or beginning of 2004.
"It's an innovative idea that will finally put an end to the main obstacle faced by many working families when attempting to purchase a home," he noted.
"And the final decision on who will receive the money will be made locally, as it should be. Washington neither can nor should tell Denver who needs to buy a house or what type of house they should buy," he said.
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