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Biden Administration Reinforces Efforts to Reduce the Homeownership Gap

The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has issued its Equity Action Plan, drafted to reiterate the Biden Administration’s goal of advancing equity for all communities across the nation.

“Equity is central to HUD’s founding principles and the daily work we do as a Department,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “We are excited to take this opportunity to join the rest of the federal government in emphasizing our commitment to making equity a leading compass within this Administration.”

The 18-page Equity Action Plan was drafted in accordance with Executive Order 13985, issued the first day President Biden took office, as implemented by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to specifically address procurement and resources to HUD’s civil rights unit, the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). Access to federal contracting opportunities can support economic growth and wealth building for members of underserved communities.

Executive Order 13985, otherwise known as “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government,” directs the federal government to pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all. In response to Executive Order 13985, HUD commenced a Department-wide plan, which included actions to reduce the racial homeownership gap and center equity in the delivery of services to people experiencing homelessness.

HUD’s Equity Action Plan provides an opportunity to dive into a handful of areas that contributed to the agency’s work on a strategic plan, which has equity as an underlining principle.

The decision to focus on homeownership has reflected several of the Biden Administration’s priorities, such as the need to address a history of racial discrimination in federal programs—as reflected in the President’s Memorandum on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies—the Federal Housing Administration’s role in supporting homeownership for first-time buyers; and the importance of homeownership for wealth building amongst all communities.

According to the Equity Action Plan, HUD’s Strategic Plan for fiscal year 2022-2026 identifies additional undertakings to promote equity, such as improving rental assistance to address the need for affordable housing.

According to “The State of the Nation’s Housing: 2021” issued by the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS), in Q2 of 2019, the homeownership rates for white, Black, and Latino households were 73.1%, 40.6%, and 46.6%, respectively–the largest differentials in 50 years. Similarly, in 2019, the median household wealth for white, Black, and Latino households was $189,100, $24,100, and $36,050 respectively.

HUD’s Equity Action Plan outlines several measures the Department has taken to eliminate the racial homeownership gap through a range of actions, including:

  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) activities to maximize homeownership for creditworthy first-time homebuyers.
  • Increased engagement with non-traditional lenders, including community-based institutions, to better reach underserved communities.
  • Efforts to ensure manufactured housing is a thriving source of affordable, quality, durable, and safe housing for Americans include implementing up-to-date Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards.
  • Expanding access to financing for affordable housing types like manufactured housing through updates to the Title I program.
  • Improving asset and credit building for renters interested in transitioning to homeownership.
  • Proposing a 40-Year Term for Loan Modifications Rule, currently under OMB review, which will allow mortgagees to provide borrowers in default with a loan modification for up to 480 months to help borrowers reduce monthly mortgage payments and retain their homes.

“HUD has embraced the opportunity presented by Executive Order 13985 to bring equity to the agency’s internal and external activities,” states the Equity Action Plan.

Another tenet of HUD’s Plan focuses on advancing equity in the Department’s delivery of homelessness assistance programs. The Plan emphasizes how homelessness is experienced in cities, suburbs, rural areas, and tribal lands; across races and ethnicities; by individuals and families; young and old; male, female, transgender, and gender non-conforming. Even within homeless populations, some groups are less likely to have safe access to homeless shelters, and some are likely to experience homelessness for more extended periods.

Click here to view HUD’s Equity Action Plan in its entirety.

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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