In Las Vegas this Thursday, at the Democratic debate, the elephant in the room will be housing. With the housing market meltdown, foreclosures are sweeping the country. Nevada has the worst rate with one foreclosure filing in every 61 households, while the nationwide rate is one foreclosure filing for every 196 households.
One of the few things the Federal government does to actually assist working families to gain first time homeownership is the downpayment assistance program.
I've written about the downpayment assistance issue before, with support from several of the most popular Black bloggers. The Bush Admin and HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson has been trying to close down the downpayment program– which allows nonprofits to help qualified first time home buyers with getting the downpayment they need to move into their first home. The GAO reports that if the Bush admin is allowed to close downpayment assistance, then 40% of African-American homebuyers and potentially 30% of Latinos will be unable to utilize FHA loans and will be unable to become homeowners.
In the house, Democrats Maxine Waters and Barney Frank have championed a bill to block Alphonso Jackson's regressive efforts. In the courts, a Federal judge ruled October 31st that HUD cannot issue its decision banning downpayment assistance because of lack of a public hearing and with concern for how many people would be adversely affected.
Now with those kind of odds, shouldn't the Bush admnistration be backing down? No- and that's because they still have support in the Senate. Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd is still siding with the Bush administration, echoing Republican Senator Richard Selby by saying he thinks downpayment assistance ought to go…
Clearly, Eliminating downpayment assistance is just another way to put Blacks into a modern day sharecropping system the apartment renting plantation. Without rich parents and inherited wealth, many minorities are trapped in cycles of poverty…never owning assets and always renting…
Let's hope Senator Obama and Senator Clinton takes leadership of this issue that is affecting communities all over the country. Will Blitzer ask a question about how to deal with the housing crises? Will he have the cojones to challenge Dodd for supporting Bush on shutting down the lifeline to these people?
Downpayment assistance is the best way people can AVOID the predatory loans and subprime mortgages which have caused the bubble to burst. Taking downpayment assistance away will only exacerbate problems.