DR. BEN CARSON
SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
AT THE GENERATION WH(Y) HOMEOWNERSHIP EVENT
June 27th, 2017
As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.
Thank you, everyone, for coming – and thanks to all the organizers of this event, Laura Kusisto, our moderator, and our wonderful panelists. I look forward to our discussion today.
It's great to be here at WeWorks, in the type of space that is so representative of "thinking outside the box" … of young people and young ideas, full of promise.
America has always been focused on pushing toward new ideas and a brighter future. Our country is a place where, less than 115 years ago, two guys in a bicycle shop invented the airplane—and now we're talking about missions to Mars.
It is astounding to think about the progress our country has made in a relatively short amount of time. But it is also challenging to consider the areas where we've made far less progress.
One of those "guys in a bicycle shop," Orville Wright, was just 32 when he made the famous first flight at Kitty Hawk.
It's funny to think that, if he were that age today, something as simple as homeownership might be as difficult to achieve as flying.
Homeownership is hovering around historic lows for Americans: 63.6 percent. This should concern us as a measure of economic prosperity, but it also means something more.
It means that not enough Americans have access to the fiscal and social stability that owning a home provides. Communities as well are deprived of the cooperation, care, and social safety nets that permanent residents create.
So, this is an issue we need to tackle for all Americans. But it is particularly true for Millennials.
Statistics show that they're buying homes later and later in life—or in some cases, aren't planning to at all.
For some, this is because Millennials are getting married later than their parents' generation, and people tend to buy homes when they get married. But for many, it's because homes are too expensive, or wages are stagnant. It simply isn't a financial possibility for them.
There's an unfair stereotype of Millennials who never leave home. I call it unfair, because it's not an issue of people refusing to grow up: it's an issue of an economy that has failed those who need the most help.
I call them the "Lost Generation" of homeowners—a generation we need to find again, and help achieve prosperity.
These, especially, are the young people whom we should reach and educate about their options during National Homeownership Month. These are the people who should know how HUD can help them. We're already getting the ball rolling with new initiatives.
We know that the condo is often the first step onto the homeownership ladder. And a way of moving up that ladder. And we know that the Federal Housing Administration has a central role to play. It is the lender of choice for many first-time home-buyers, and it's the entryway to the housing market. The Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2016" allowed FHA, under certain circumstances to lower its required owner-occupancy standard for approved condominium developments.
The owner-occupancy minimum has been reduced from 50 percent to 35 percent. Ultimately, this action will allow for more people, including Millennials, to use FHA to buy a condo. In addition, Fannie Mae recently announced a plan to reduce its debt to income ratio to attract more Millennial homeownership. Along with FHA loans, this is a great move to give Millennials as many homebuying options as possible.
And of course, there are HUD services and programs available to all Americans, but we must make sure to spread the word to young people—at events like this, during National Homeownership Month, and all year long.
Then, if we work hard, we can help the dreams of the next generation of homeownership take flight!
Thank you again for attending, and taking part in this important conversation.