U.S. Senator Tom Carper and HUD Regional Director, Milton R. Pratt, Jr., Kick-off National Housing Month by Paying Tribute to the Delaware Federation of Housing Counselors

WILMINGTON, DE – U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Milton R. Pratt, Jr., the Region III Director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), presented an award to the Delaware Federation of Housing Counselors (DFHC) in appreciation for their commitment to assisting Delawareans achieve the American Dream of homeownership. The event was held at NCALL Research, Inc. in Dover. Founded in 1990, DFHC is a non-profit organization established to enhance the ability of low and moderate income housing consumers to obtain and maintain decent, safe and affordable housing. During this period clients purchased 1,309 homes, which resulted in mortgage loans in the amount of $130,000,000. Today, homeownership in America is at an all time high, but not all Americans have benefited. While three-quarters of white Americans own their own homes, less than half of all African Americans and Hispanic Americans are homeowners. Even with a surge in homeownership during the 1990’s, the homeownership gap between minority and white households declined by just 1.5 percentage points. Last June, President George W. Bush announced an ambitious plan to make homeownership possible for all Americans and to help close the homeownership gap by increasing minority homeownership by 5.5 million families by the end of the decade. In order to achieve this objective, he challenged the public and private sectors to work together to reach or exceed that goal. The result is the creation of an unprecedented public/private partnership, the Blueprint for the American Dream, that is tearing down barriers to minority homeownership and working to help millions of minority families reap the economic benefits of homeownership. There are two-dozen member groups in the Blueprint Partnership, and they bring together the individual strengths of government, the real estate and mortgage finance industry, affordable housing groups and advocacy organizations. Working together, the Blueprint Partners identified four key areas they should focus on to increase minority homeownership, and made specific commitments to take action in one or more Pathways to Homeownership:

  • Homeownership education and housing
  • Increasing the supply of affordable homes
  • Giving families new options for upfront funds like the downpayment
  • Improving mortgage lending by increasing funds for affordable loans and redoubling efforts to root out illegal discrimination

The Bush administration has made housing counseling a separate program within HUD for the first time. HUD’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2004 includes an additional $10 million to provide counseling services to lower-income Americans who wish to become homeowners. The additional funding would bring HUD’s nationwide Housing Counseling Grant Program to $45 million. This amount is more than double the amount appropriated in fiscal year 2002, and it is estimated that the additional funding will help enable an estimated 250,000 more individuals and families to purchase homes. “Housing counseling plays a vital role in helping people through what can sometimes be an overwhelming home-buying process,” U.S. Senator Tom Carper said. “Owning a home not only helps people gain financial stability but it also gives them a sense of pride that benefits everyone, including the community. Housing counseling gives people the tools and confidence to make the American Dream come true.” HUD Regional Director Milton R. Pratt, Jr. said, “Knowledge about homeownership and the home-buying process is the best starting place for families who want to buy a home of their own because the process provides a clear pathway to achieving the American Dream of homeownership.” A highlight of this event was the personal comments about the housing counseling process by a couple (with three children) who began housing counseling with NCALL Research in Dover in June 2000. As a result of housing counseling, the couple recently purchased a newly constructed home in Wyoming, Delaware. Housing counseling is a free service offered to first-time homebuyers and anyone who needs help buying a home. The Housing Counseling Clearinghouse at 1-888-466-3487 is a toll-free 24-hour-a-day automated voice response system that provides prospective homebuyers with referrals to local housing counseling agencies. HUD-approved housing counseling agencies in Wilmington include:

  • Community Housing, Inc. (302) 652-3991
  • Delaware State Housing Authority (302) 577-5001
  • Housing Opportunities of Northern Delaware (302) 429-0794
  • Interfaith Housing, Inc. (302) 995-7408
  • Neighborhood House, Inc. (302) 652-3928
  • YWCA Center for Homeownership (302) 888-7790

Other HUD-approved housing counseling agencies in Delaware include the First State Community Action Agency in Georgetown at (302) 856-7761 and NCALL Research, Inc. in Dover at (302) 678-9400. Information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at: www.hud.gov