June is National Homeownership Month, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, using the theme “Find Your Place,” wants all Americans to know that homeownership is not only a significant part of the American Dream, but also a largely attainable goal.

Since 1934, more than 47 million households purchased a home with mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). During the housing crisis of a decade ago, the FHA played a critical role in keeping affordable mortgage financing available for millions of qualified borrowers.

“Homeownership serves as an enduring symbol of security and prosperity, and it provides many Americans with a legacy they can pass down to their children and grandchildren,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “During National Homeownership Month, we recognize the abiding value of owning a home, and we rededicate ourselves toward helping hardworking families to find their place in the American dream.”

Today, home sales are at pre-crisis levels and home prices on the rise in most parts of the country as millennials make up the largest segment of first-time homebuyers. Through FHA and a national network of HUD-approved counseling agencies, HUD is working to make responsible homeownership a reality for millions of Americans.
In keeping with the correlation between homeownership and health fused, HUD kicked off its National Healthy Homes Month efforts. Citing homes and health are inextricably linked together, as two reflective components of society that serve as indicators of the strength of the nation, HUD said their efforts should help families create healthier living conditions for themselves and their kids.

This year’s theme, “Unlocking the Potential of America’s Children: Check Your Home-Protect Your Family,” focuses on the opportunity to protect current and future generations of children from the exposures to lead from contaminated paint, dust, and soil.

“Making homes safe and healthy involves collaborations among federal and local agencies, residents and community organizations,” says Matt Ammon, Director of HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. “During Healthy Homes Month, we’re mobilizing the collective efforts of Federal, State and local health and housing professionals to protect families where they spend most of their time — in their home, because it’s hard to be healthy when your home is making you sick.”

HUD also provides a quick snapshot of the state of both homeownership and how the department is working to promote it in 2018:

HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling (OHC) supports a nationwide network of more than 1,800 housing counseling agencies;

Struggling homeowners at risk of default who work with a housing counselor are more likely to get a loan modification and are 30 percent less likely to face foreclosure, compared to similar owners who did not get counseled;

The median wealth or net worth of a homeowner is nearly $200,000, or 36 times greater that of the median renter who had just over $5,000;

Homeowners move far less frequently than renters, making it easier to build community networks and support systems; and

Children of families who own their homes are more likely to graduate high school and earn more income later in life.

Last year alone, more than 1.2 million people turned to FHA to help them buy a home or to refinance into a lower cost mortgage. Today, an estimated 40 percent of all borrowers turn to FHA to purchase their first home. 44 percent of home purchases by African American families and 43 percent of home purchases by Hispanic families are assisted by FHA.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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