Anti-Growth a Stumbling Block for Latino Home Buyers
In a March 21 address before the National Hispanic Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., California builder Ray Fernandez outlined several steps that NAHB is taking to advance homeownership opportunities for the nation’s growing Latino community.
The forum was sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who participated in the event along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
Fernandez noted that only 27% of his fellow Latinos can afford to purchase a house in his home county of San Bernardino County, Calif., and cited statistics from the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute reporting that a $5,000 increase in the price of a home prevents 44,000 Hispanic families in the Golden State from qualifying for a mortgage.
“As we talk about how to make housing affordable, the key subjects are overly burdensome restrictions on land and anti-growth activism that prevent the building of affordable housing,” said Fernandez.
“Yet there is hope. NAHB fights every day for the cause of housing affordability by knocking down the barriers to housing and advocating for programs that make housing available and affordable.”
NAHB is working with members of Congress to revitalize and reform the Federal Housing Administration to ensure that home buyers have access to safe, affordable mortgage financing that enables them to realize the dream of homeownership, he said.
“And NAHB is closely examining the sub-prime mortgage market to find the true factors contributing to the market’s downturn,” added Fernandez. “NAHB’s goal is to ensure that home owners remain in their homes.”
Learning to Speak English
To help the home building industry’s 2.5 million Hispanic workers learn to speak English, NAHB has developed an innovative learning program called "Sed de Saber-Construction Edition."
Created by the Home Builders Institute, the workforce development arm of NAHB, the program is designed to help Hispanic workers to have stable, good-paying jobs, establish successful careers in the construction industry and move forward on the path to homeownership.
Nationwide, the Hispanic community is the nation’s fastest growing minority, making up nearly 15% of the total U.S. population. By 2020, Hispanics will account for 18% of the nation’s population.
“To place this in perspective, there are currently 40 million Hispanic households in the U.S., and 2.1 million more will join the housing market by 2010,” said Fernandez. “That will amount to 31% of all household growth nationwide.”
Noting that 88% of Hispanic families say that their definition of the American dream is owning their own home, Fernandez described its importance in deeply personal terms.
“The American dream of homeownership provides a stable environment for my family to flourish in,” he said. “Even as I have gotten older, I still fondly look back on my youth, playing in my own yard, celebrating holidays with my family in our living room and talking about the day’s events at our kitchen table. The American dream to me is a mosaic of all those wonderful memories.”
Owning a home not only enhances the quality of life for individual families, but also has a transformational power on communities, he added.
“Owning a home changes the way we think about our community and translates into a greater appreciation for citizenship and civic responsibility,” said Fernandez. “Homeownership also builds communities by funding the quality of life assets that they need. Each newly-built home helps to pay for police and fire protection, construct new schools, road and parks, and to pay for many other civic needs.”
For more information, e-mail Michael Strauss at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8252.
Are You Prepared for the New Emerging Market?
"Casa y Comunidad: Latino Home and Neighborhood Design,” available through BuilderBooks.com, takes the first-ever look at the growing and increasingly prosperous U.S. Latino community and its housing needs and helps all segments of the housing industry to understand and prepare for this emerging market.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.