WASHINGTON – Sept. 17, 2014 – New HUD Secretary Julian Castro cited increased homeownership for all Americans – including those with damaged credit – as one of his main priorities in his first public policy speech.

"It's time to remove the stigma associated with promoting homeownership," Castrol said yesterday at the Bipartisan Policy Center's housing summit in Washington.

National Association of Realtors President Steve Brown, Carole Galante, commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration, and current and former U.S. Sens. Kit Bond, R-Mo., Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Mel Martinez, R-Fla., joined Castro at the summit.

Castro focused on lenders who have been reluctant to widen access to credit since the mortgage crisis.

"The truth is that the dream of homeownership is out of reach for too many Americans," Castro said, and he pledged to work to preserve existing affordable housing. He also said he would strive to alleviate the affordability crunch in the rental sector.

Castro also spoke about his support for stalled legislation from Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) that would overhaul the nation's housing-finance system. The bill would dedicate billions of dollars every year to producing affordable housing, according to Castro.

"Homeownership is not a Republican or Democratic talking point, it's an aspiration that all Americans share," added NAR's Brown, who also addressed the summit.

Brown discussed the impact of Ability-to-Repay rules and how restrictive pricing policies at the FHA and the Federal Housing Finance Agency make homeownership prohibitively expensive for some first-time and traditionally underserved buyers relative to prime offer rates.

According to Brown, FHA's high annual mortgage insurance premiums and insurance requirement for the life of the loan pose significant challenges to qualified buyers who are being priced out of FHA or the market altogether.

Source: Washington Post (09/16/14) ElBoghdady, Dina

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