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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Minorities and Home Ownership

Continuing on our theme of financial education and economic empowerment, its extremely important to understand the fundamentals of wealth creation. Our founding fathers, in addition to granting every citizen the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, also envisioned the owners of capital and wealth to be those who owned land. You can see the influence land ownership has played in American history. Large family estates became townships and later into commerical centers that we consider cities. We've come to view home ownership as an important stepping stone to acheiving the American Dream, however I view homeownership as the first step to financial independence and wealth creation.

The American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI) was signed into law on December 16, 2003. The American Dream Downpayment Assistance Act authorizes up to $200 million annually for fiscal years 2004 - 2007. ADDI will provide funds to all fifty states and to local participating jurisdictions that have a population of at least 150,000 or will receive an allocation of at least $50,000 under the ADDI formula. ADDI will be administered as a part of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, a formula grant program.

To be eligible for ADDI assistance, individuals must be first-time homebuyers interested in purchasing single family housing. A first-time homebuyer is defined as an individual and his or her spouse who have not owned a home during the three-year period prior to the purchase of a home with ADDI assistance. ADDI funds may be used to purchase one- to four- family housing, condominium unit, cooperative unit, or manufactured housing. Additionally, individuals who qualify for ADDI assistance must have incomes not exceeding 80% of area median income.

In the United States, buying a home is the key to achieving the American Dream. Forty-two percent of the net worth of all households consists of equity in their homes - that means for most Americans, their homes are their single largest asset. Homeownership provides families with the means to invest in education, business opportunities, retirement and resources for the next generation.When the federal government stepped in to make it possible for most Americans to finance the purchase of their own home, they essentially paved the way for millions of average white Americans to begin their own wealth-building. But the policies they endorsed made it very difficult for minorities to attain the same resources and opportunities, resulting in deeply segregated communities and an enormous wealth gap between whites and nonwhites that persists to this day. In 1995, the median white family had over 8 times the net worth of the median Black family. The gap is even greater for Latinos - the median white household has over 12 times the wealth of the median Latino family.Race, wealth and life opportunities are intertwined in the United States. Today, white and nonwhite communities are still "separate and unequal" and the gap continues to grow, long after the Civil Rights era. Wealth, and the opportunities it affords, is passed down through successive generations. Along with it, Americans have also inherited a legacy of inequality that continues to shape the future. Segregation and the wealth gap between whites and nonwhites did not arise on their own. And because they are so deeply entrenched in the institutions that structure our society, they will not fade away by simply outlawing discriminatory policies.


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