President George W. Bush announced, in his 2002 State of the Union address, that he would work with Congress this year to achieve "broader homeownership, especially among minorities." The President's announcement followed the U.S. Census Bureau's release of homeownership data on January 25, 2002, showing that there are now 73 million homeowners nationwide, more than at any time in history, and that the minority homeownership rate is 49 percent, also a new record. Former HUD Secretary Mel Martinez emphasized that "This Administration is poised to build upon this record with a new focus on making it easier for Americans to have a stake in their communities and shape their neighborhoods through homeownership. The President's down payment assistance initiative, increase in funding for housing counseling services, and stronger partnerships with faith-based groups will pave the way for thousands more to achieve the dream of homeownership."
Several key initiatives were introduced to simplify the homebuying process, especially for minority and low-income minority Americans. In addition, HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is taking the following steps to further minority homeownership:
- Proactively preventing housing discrimination through education, outreach, and the enforcement of the nation's fair housing laws.
- Promptly resolving housing complaints and reducing FHEO's backlog of aged cases.
- Unlocking the potential of faith-based and community organizations as a means of expanding homeownership opportunities for low-income, minority persons and those with special needs.
- Directing resources and attention to unfair and discriminatory practices in the Colonias.
- Vigorously enforcing the Fair Housing Act against civil rights violations by predatory lenders.
Anyone who believes they have experienced housing discrimination should call HUD's Housing Discrimination Hotline at 1-800-669-9777. They can also file a housing discrimination complaint with the nearest HUD office.