DR. BEN CARSON
SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
AT THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
MIDYEAR LEGISLATIVE MEETINGS AND TRADE EXPO
WASHINGTON, D.C.
MAY 16th, 2017

 

As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for having me here today. I want to especially thank President Brown, Chair of the Regulatory Issues Forum Brian Sears, Vice Chair Allan Daniels, and everyone here who works each and every day to make the dream of homeownership a reality for millions of Americans.

Today, I’m here to announce that we’re ushering in a new era of homeownership!  This new era is forged out of the upheaval of our recent housing crisis that challenged our understanding about homeownership.  Even today, the American Dream of homeownership remains out of reach for far too many credit-qualified households.

Several weeks ago, the Census Bureau reported modest gains in the homeownership rate for some groups, yet the nation’s overall homeownership rate continues to hover near all-time lows. 

This reveals quite a bit about the way that Americans think about themselves, their country, and their opportunities in life. The inability to save up and buy a home is a new type of glass-ceiling that holds back millions from fully realizing their potential.

June is National Home Ownership Month, a time for us to recognize the abiding value of owning a home and rededicate ourselves toward ensuring that every hardworking and responsible American receives a fair chance at becoming a homeowner.

Since 1934, the Federal Housing Administration and HUD have helped transform the dream of homeownership into a reality for more than 46 million households.

Now, we hope to continue expanding affordable homeownership for credit-worthy Americans of all backgrounds and in every corner of this nation.

Great progress has already been made. Last year, one and a quarter million families closed on homes with help from FHA. That’s more than a 60 percent increase since 2014.  Our nation is also experiencing the lowest delinquency rate on mortgage payments since before the housing crisis. 

That second fact especially gives me hope: if our job is to guide Americans to permanent housing solutions, we cannot talk them into buying homes they cannot afford. Historic lows in delinquencies means we’re accomplishing our task responsibly.

HUD and FHA are in the process of evaluating how we should continue these successes, and how we can better leverage our programs to assist even more homebuyers.

Just yesterday, FHA launched its new Loan Review System, which will increase transparency with lenders, facilitate better communication between lenders and FHA, and make it easier toassess problems in mortgage loan underwriting while giving lenders a better look at how FHA identifies those problems.

We’re also expanding FHA assistance to more people by relaxing restrictions on the type of property that is covered. For example, condominiums serve an important part of the first-time homebuyer market. That’s why we’re working on a new rule to ensure FHA insurance is available for more condos.

As we work to publish this final condo rule, let me say that FHA is committed to getting this done and we’re working right now to reduce the regulatory burden associated with FHA’s approval process.

These efforts do not exist in a vacuum. They are complimented and brought to fruition by many men and women working hard across our government and in the private sector.

Improving the quality of education, lifting onerous regulations, lowering tax burdens, and adding jobs takes cooperation from my colleagues at the Departments of Labor, Education, Energy, Interior, and more. And together, I think we’re poised to help a lot of people.

But of course, government is not the source of our economic strength. The citizens and businesses of this great nation are.

Just the other week, I spoke to members of the American Land Title Association, who ensure that the properties we buy and sell have clear lines of ownership, and who know that a society with strong property rights provides greater economic benefits to everyone. Diverse interests like these can also help what we do at HUD.

I’ve been traveling around the country hearing from stakeholders in low-income housing—renters, site managers, developers, and local leaders. It’s allowed me to see what’s working, and what’s not, so we can be more effective in serving the most vulnerable Americans.

So far, I’ve seen that our efforts are most successful when they address the “whole person.” Education, work, stable families, and economic opportunities not only serve to pull folks out of housing uncertainty, but can prevent men and women from falling into it.

This means that our efforts in housing must be holistic; we cannot just place someone in an apartment and declare our job finished. Our efforts will only have lasting results if there is an economy for people to participate in and a community to embrace them.

In cities like Detroit, Dallas, Miami, and Columbus, I have seen firsthand the success of public-private partnerships. It is always important that local ventures have local stakeholders who are committed to their success.

We should look for similar cooperation with organizations like yours when working to promote homeownership and support homebuyers who seek to achieve this pillar of the American Dream.

It is not only a moral interest that a family should have access to good education, employment, and a caring community, but a practical one. A family that has access to these things is more likely to come to you to buy a house. Our goals can be the same. 

I want to thank each of you for all your vital work for the economy and on behalf of the people you help to find homes. I look forward to working with you.

Thank you.