Owning your own home gives a family security and gives a neighborhood stability. Yet, although the homeownership rate among Hispanics has increased over the last decade, we still lag behind the general population in the quest for this piece of the American dream.
The U.S. Hispanic homeownership rate increased from 46.1% in September 2003, to 49.7% in March 2005, according to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute`s HOGAR program. Still, this rate lags far behind the national average of 69 percent. In New York City, 15 percent of Hispanics are homeowners, compared to an overall city homeownership rate of 33 percent.
At the same time, the Hispanic population is growing, Hispanics represent a growing portion of the age group where home sales are made (26 to 46), and more Latino families than ever earn more than $40,000 a year. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute launched its National Housing Initiative and the HOGAR program two years ago to help more Latinos buy their own homes.
But buying a home can seem daunting. Barriers include: lack of money for the down payment and closing costs; no access to credit and poor credit histories; lack of information about the home-buying process; and housing discrimination.
There are private and government-sponsored companies, such as Freddie Mac, whose missions are to help renters become homeowners. It can take six months to two years to buy a home. But as Rebecca Villalpando of the HOGAR program says, “If you can plan a Quinceañera, you can buy your own home.”
For information about programs for New York City homebuyers, go to the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/home.html
For informatoin about the National Housing Initiative, go to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute website: http://www.chci.org/nhi/nhi.html