Urban Development, is using this convention season to push the Clinton administration's plan to increase the nation's homeownership pace. Speaking to America's Community Bankers on Monday, Mr. Cisneros gave a hopeful picture of the government's progress toward a record rate of 67% homeownership by the end of the century. Falling interest rates have already pushed the rate to 64.7%, and Mr. Cisneros predicted it would rise again in the fourth quarter. Inventories of unsold homes are down, and building permits are up, he said. Strong economic growth through the end of the century will favor homeownership, the secretary asserted. The administration is also pinning its hopes on a rising tide of immigrants, who are expected to buy homes on a massive scale in the next few years. Mr. Cisneros also said the administration believes that homeownership will rise as more lenders reach out to minorities and others who previously had been shut out. In an apparent reference to concerns about the risks of such lending, Mr. Cisneros cautioned against abandoning the market at the first reports of setbacks. "We must continue to perfect the analytical tools that will enable us to better manage the risks inherent in affordable loans," Mr. Cisneros said. In the wake of the O.J. Simpson trial and the Million Man March in Washington, President Clinton and other administration officials are speaking out on the issue of race. The secretary boiled the question down to a few numbers. Only 43% of blacks and 40% of Latinos are homeowners, compared with 70% of whites, Mr. Cisneros said. "Our economy isn't working for everybody when African-Americans and Latino borrowers are still 60% more likely to be turned down for home loans than whites," he said. He urged his audience of thrift executives to help close the homeownership gap.
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