Hurricane Rita Homebuyer Funds
Thank you, Beth (Anderson). I am honored to be here with Southeast Texans like Mayor (Guy) Goodson and Mayor Pro-Tem (Cynthia) Jackson, who know firsthand how our communities benefit from high levels of homeownership, and how a community can suffer when homes are lost to disaster.
Owning a home has always been an essential part of the American Dream.
For families, homeownership is not merely a source of pride, it is often the first step on the path to prosperity.
And for our communities, homeownership provides an important source of stability.
Research studies show that when a majority of families own the home in which they live, you end up with safer neighborhoods, greater economic opportunities and a stronger sense of community.
Households accumulate personal wealth by building equity.
Math and reading scores increase for schoolchildren.
Neighbors care and look out for one another.
And community bonds are strengthened because a family’s roots run deeper.
On the other hand, when a home is destroyed, those roots are pulled out, and the loss experienced by one homeowner has a ripple effect throughout the entire community.
And when many homes are destroyed, the impact is magnified exponentially, as folks in Southeast Texas know all too well.
Unfortunately, owning a home remains a challenge for many Texans.
According to the US Census, 65.9 percent of all Texans own the home in which they live.
That is better than just a few years ago, but still a few points lower than the national average.
And in some Texas communities, homeownership rates can lag up to 20 percent behind the rest of the state.
Making homeownership more affordable is one of the best long-term investments government can make.
And today that is exactly what the state of Texas is going to do.
Today I am proud to announce that Texas is making $255 million available to help victims of Hurricane Rita and low-income families across the state purchase a home of their own.
This is the largest amount of homebuyer funds ever released by the state.
And more than 40 percent of it, or $108 million, is coming here to help Southeast Texans recover from Hurricane Rita.
We will use these funds, made available by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, to provide low interest rate mortgages and mortgage credit certificates to qualifying families.
Homebuyers in this part of the state will be able to get loans with an interest rate under 6 percent, as well as grants to help cover the down payment.
And in Southeast Texas, you don’t need to be a first-time homebuyer, just someone who could use a helping hand.
Statewide, this program will help some 2,300 Texans buy a home, and that is a significant investment that will not only improve the quality of life for those who receive funds, but their neighbors, their communities and our entire state.
This is a remarkable opportunity for anyone who has dreamed of owning a home but felt that finances put it beyond their reach.
And for those who lost their dreams last year to Hurricane Rita, this is an opportunity for a new start on the road to a better tomorrow.
I know there is a sense in Southeast Texas that Rita is the storm no one in Washington seems to remember.
But Texas remembers. And in Texas, we take care of our own.
The funds we are announcing today are just are part of our commitment.
And the state will continue to see that commitment through until life is back to normal for every one of our friends and neighbors in Southeast Texas.
Today, we have taken a significant step toward that great goal. Thank you.
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