House Passes Housing Bills

June 22, 2004

Under suspension of the rules, the House passed the Helping Hands for Homeownership Act of 2004 and the Homeownership Opportunity for Native Americans Act of 2004.

Related Links:
H.R. 4363, the Helping Hands for Homeownership Act of 2004
H.R. 4471, Homeownership Opportunity for Native Americans Act of 2004

Rep. Mark Green (WI) introduced H.R. 4363, the Helping Hands for Homeownership Act of 2004. The legislation would make a technical correction to the Housing Opportunity Program Extension Act of 1996 to permit families who receive homes from groups such as Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) to fulfill the “sweat equity" requirement for receiving Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) funds by helping to build other Habitat homes in the community, in addition to their own. SHOP provides competitive grants for groups such as Habitat for Humanity to help with land and infrastructure expenses.

“These grants are essential in helping groups like Habitat carry out their mission of ‘building stronger communities,’" Rep. Green said. “By fixing this glitch we’re removing a major barrier to homeownership for low-income families, and giving them the chance to help other families in their communities."

This change fulfills the original intent of Congress, and corrects a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development interpretation, which creates a hurdle to homeownership.

In addition the legislation would designate that section 502, the Single-Family Housing Loan Guarantee Program of the National Affordable Housing Act, be named after retiring Rep. Doug Bereuter (NE) in honor his 26 years of service. The program, authored by Rep. Bereuter, facilitates home ownership for low-to-moderate-income borrowers in rural areas who are unable to obtain conventional mortgage financing.

Rep. Rick Renzi (AZ) introduced the Homeownership Opportunity for Native Americans Act of 2004. H.R. 4471 would amend the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 to provide statutory authority for the Title VI program to continue to operate at a 95 percent loan guarantee. While the program has been operating at that level for some time, recent decisions by the Office of Management and Budget have threatened to reduce the loan guarantee to 80 percent.

Rep. Rick Renzi said, “During a Housing Subcommittee field hearing on the Navajo Nation in Tuba City, Arizona, we saw families living in deplorable conditions, in substandard housing with dirt floors and collapsing ceilings. Maintaining the 95 percent guarantee rate for this program helps these families move into safe, comfortable homes.

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