America's homeownership rate has reached a record high, but rates for African-Americans and Latinos are one-third lower than those of white Americans. At a time when our nation's housing-finance system is the envy of the world, an affordable mortgage is still beyond the grasp of many Americans - most notably many minority and low-income families.

Financial empowerment - tearing down barriers to permit access to capital and providing individuals the financial literacy needed to build and preserve their financial independence - has powerful national implications. This is as true in the housing market as it is in the markets for credit cards, banking services, and insurance products. For example, the purchase of a home, which is often the most significant financial commitment a family will ever make, remains a key path to financial enfranchisement.

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