WASHINGTON Politicos and mortgage-industry heavy hitters rolled out a grassroots campaign on Tuesday that they hope will increase African-American homeownership by at least one million by 2005.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation introduced the campaign, called With Ownership, Wealth or WOW. Mortgage industry executives, and officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development were present.
WOW will be a outreach effort that will include homeownership fairs, local media campaigns, and partnerships with local nonprofit and faith-based organizations, said Rep. Eva M. Clayton, D-N.C., a member of the caucus.
The campaign will be launched in the districts represented by the 37 members of the caucus. The local partnerships will provide potential homebuyers with mortgage-shopping seminars, one-on-one credit counseling services, and information on available government assistance.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Tex., chairwoman of the caucus, said the program is designed to communicate the myriad opportunities that exist for our people to become homeowners.
It will focus on reaching out to people who are now ready to buy a home and those who simply want to know how to get started, she said. It will also focus on eliminating the obstacles that exist and establishing a good, solid credit history.
Industry executives, including Tom Jacob, chairman and chief executive officer of Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp., the mortgage unit of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; Tom Wind, president of CitiMortgage, the mortgage operation of Citigroup Inc.; and Tom Mann, president and CEO of GE Mortgage Insurance, expressed their commitment to the campaign.
No one, two, or three companies can achieve this alone, said Mr. Mann. In fact, when you think about the resources that reside in each of our companies and the framework that WOW provides us, we should be ashamed of ourselves if we dont leverage our strengths to realize this goal.
Andrew Woodward, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, stressed the importance of lenders in increasing homeownership.
Mr. Woodward said that lenders should strive not only to provide better access to lending products to the minority community but also to serve as a continual resource for first-time minority homebuyers.
It is critically important that we help them manage their home ownership responsibilities wisely, Mr. Woodward said.
HUD Secretary Mel Martinez used the occasion of the WOW launch to warn that housing programs that do not carry their weight will not survive his tenure.
After pumping the private sectors importance to growth in homeownership reiterating the Bush administrations small-government philosophy as it applies to HUD Mr. Martinez vowed that any programs that did not contribute directly to increased homeownership would be cut.
If there is a single program that delivers just photo opportunities, it will be cut and shall be cut, he said.
Even though the minority homeownership rate grew four times faster than the white rate in the past decade, it is still only 46.7%, versus 67% for the nation as a whole and 73% for whites, Congressional Black Caucus members said.