Home Bill would LIFT new homeowners into wealth-building, especially Black Americans
U.S. & World

Bill would LIFT new homeowners into wealth-building, especially Black Americans

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Sen. Mark R. Warner of Virginia first introduced the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers (LIFT) Act in 2021 to establish a program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Warner and colleagues, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Jon Ossoff of Georgia, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri introduced the legislation today to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers, especially Americans of color, accelerate wealth-building through homeownership.

In consultation with the Department of the Treasury, the legislation would allow new homeowners low fixed-rate 20-year mortgages for roughly the same monthly payment as a traditional 30-year loan.

“Homeownership is one of the key ways Americans build capital and wealth. Unfortunately, racism and systemic discrimination in our housing laws have put this opportunity out of reach for far too many families of color,” Warner said. “The LIFT Act will help narrow the racial wealth gap by allowing qualified home buyers to build equity — and wealth — at twice the rate of a conventional 30-year mortgage.”

Cleaver said it’s time for Congress to take bold steps to support the American dream of homeownership for working class families left behind and to encourage building of generational wealth.

“The LIFT Act builds upon President Biden’s economic agenda that focuses on building our economy from the bottom up and middle out, allowing more families to qualify for homeownership and build equity and stability in their home at an accelerated rate. As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Warner and his colleagues in the Senate, as we seek to ensure every American has an opportunity to share in the prosperity of this great nation,” Cleaver said.

According to Van Hollen, the legacy of discrimination in the American housing policy must be addressed.

“Homeownership is a key tool for Americans to grow their wealth and build economic stability, but for far too many people, this goal remains out of reach,” he said.

LIFT will improve the power of homeownership for millions of families by allowing borrowers to build equity through their homes at twice the rate of comparable 30-year loans without greatly increasing the monthly payment. LIFT would also narrow the racial wealth gap in the U.S., and expand and greatly strengthening the wealth-building benefits of homeownership in communities too long left behind by our existing financial structures.

“Housing is dignity and security for hardworking families in Georgia and across the nation, and owning a home is a long-held pathway to building generational wealth. But too many families have been left out of the American dream of buying a home, and Congress should act to make it a reality for more people,” Warnock said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing the LIFT Act to help put the dream of homeownership in reach for working families in Georgia and nationwide, boosting our economy and helping provide families safety and security. Let’s get this done.”

One of the best ways to build generational wealth, Kaine, a former fair housing attorney, said, is through homeownership. “I’m proud to be joining my colleagues in introducing this bill to help first-generation homebuyers, particularly those from communities of color, build wealth and help address the racial wealth gap in our country.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.