In multiple surveys, Hispanics rank homeownership as the primary evidence of success and the ultimate realization of the American Dream. While the presidential election is more than a year away, the subject of housing has yet to be addressed by most of the candidates.
Between 2008 and 2012 Hispanic families lost nearly 1 million homes due to foreclosure.
This was largely due to predatory lending, high unemployment and falling home prices. Nonetheless, according to Fannie Mae’s recent national housing survey, Hispanic enthusiasm for homeownership continues to out index other demographics.
This differs from many people’s perception that Hispanics only care about immigration policy. While Hispanics view immigration as important, candidates have more to lose than gain by taking hard lines on the subject. More specifically, Hispanics won't necessarily support a candidate because of his or her views on immigration, but anti-immigrant rhetoric, which is offensive to many Hispanics, can cost a candidate support in droves. A recent poll not surprisingly shows that a whopping 81% of Hispanics view Donald Trump unfavorably.
Despite a spike in the polls, almost nobody believes Trump or anyone else can be elected president without solid support from Hispanic voters.
And, despite some of the divisive speechifying, Hispanics are not interested in social programs such as welfare.
When was the last time you saw a Hispanic panhandler?
Hispanics are motivated by economic opportunity; the reason why many are in this country in the first place, they’re will to work hard and their passion for homeownership is undisputed. I'm not sure why the candidates don't seem to get this. Perhaps they still buy in to the unsubstantiated notion that pro-homeownership housing policies caused the economic crisis or maybe they just don’t have the facts.
Marco Rubio, the charismatic Cuban-American candidate, who eloquently proclaims that America is not a nation of "haves and have not’s but rather of haves and the soon to haves" would seem like the obvious flag bearer on the subject of homeownership. However for now the Florida Senator, who many view as the Republican’s answer to their Hispanic conundrum, remains more interested on the infinitesimal issue of Cuban/America diplomatic relations and has yet to comment on the issue.
Homeownership appeals to Hispanics because it is a good financial investment and it provides a more stable environment for families and children. Candidates wanting to appeal to Hispanic voters should prioritize policies that support the increase of sustainable homeownership opportunities for Hispanics and other Americans. These policies would include:
1. Improving access to affordable low-down payment mortgages
2. Increasing housing inventory especially in the stock of affordable homes
3. Practical consumer protection that safeguards against predatory lending without restricting access to credit for qualified individuals
4. The continuation of government housing policies that favor homeownership outcomes including the mortgage interest tax deduction
Like most Americans, Hispanics want to work, and provide a better life for their families. The home is at the center of their lifestyle and they love the concept of an ownership society. The presidential candidate that speaks to Hispanic voters about the things they care about the most will have a great chance to tip the scales in their favor. Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Bernie Sanders the floor is yours.