Last year, 1.5 million American families faced foreclosure on their homes, and we’re on our way to 2.5 million more foreclosures this year. Economists warn that the housing crisis will extend well into 2010, and the next president and Congress must grapple with the economic and political consequences.
As Republican delegates gather here in September to hammer out a platform and nominate Sen. John McCain for president, we urge them to consider the benefits to our communities and nation of helping Americans buy homes, and stay in them. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that for every dollar spent on creating more affordable housing, at least $10 are returned in the form of job creation, tax contributions, new businesses and access to higher education, among other benefits.
So, we should continue to help people like True Vang, 42, a widowed mother of four who finally was able to buy a home two months ago on St. Paul’s East Side after a frustrating yearlong search. Vang’s dilemma is all too common today, as lenders tighten qualifying standards for loans and mortgages, even as home values plummet.
Vang got help in her own community, thanks to a federal program that both Republicans and Democrats have supported. A local nonprofit housing organization, Community Neighborhood Housing Services (CNHS), provided Vang with workshops on budgeting and savings, and helped her with a down payment. Six months after contacting CNHS, Vang bought her dream home.
Organizations like CNHS, part of the national NeighborWorks network, exist because our nation has been committed to promoting homeownership. NeighborWorks America is a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization with a network of more than 230 community nonprofits offering education and counseling on purchasing, refinancing and owning a home that is affordable.
Thanks to legislation signed July 29, which provides money for community groups like CNHS to help counsel homeowners, buy and rehabilitate homes, and finance affordable housing, many more families like the Vangs can purchase and remain in homes.
Vang says she is thankful everyday that she can now raise her children in a home environment that supports her independence and her financial future. Although she has lived in the United States for 21 years, only now does she feel that she has arrived.
This is a dream worth preserving — for the Vang family and millions of others who are willing to work hard to buy and keep their homes — and we shouldn’t abandon incentives to help these families. With responsible and safe lending, we can reaffirm our national commitment to this essential slice of the American Dream while addressing the housing crisis, block by block and one family at a time.
Want to add your voice?
If you’re interested in joining the discussion by writing a Community Voices article, email Susan Albright at salbright [at] minnpost [dot] com.