Biden’s housing policy and minority homeownership

Today’s HousingWire Daily features the second episode of Honest Conversations, a miniseries on minority homeownership hosted by HousingWire Digital Media Manager Alcynna Lloyd.

In this episode, Lloyd interviews New American Funding’s Charles Lowery, director of legislative policy and external affairs, and Frank Fuentes, the national VP of multicultural community lending, on how housing policy impacts minority homeownership.

Here is a preview of the interview, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity:

Alcynna Lloyd: The Biden administration has made improving racial equity a significant focus of its domestic policy agenda, as research suggests that ending historic economic and racial inequity should start with housing, specifically with a downpayment. As the industry knows, Biden has introduced his proposed stimulus package and the potential of a $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit. Do you think this tax credit will be enough to stimulate minority homeownership?

Frank Fuentes: I personally think getting the stimulus on that tax credit is definitely a step in the right direction. I know a lot of major banks are working on their own proprietary down payment assistance programs. Because of those two facts that I just mentioned, I’m excited and optimistic about the future for minority homeownership. The other piece of it that I’m hoping to maybe see, which I think is key with increasing homeownership in all of the diverse markets across America, is manual underwriting. That’s a very important topic that I think we need to get out there, and hopefully, more and more lenders do more of it, because the bottom line is that minority borrowers do require more manual underwriting.

Charles Lowery: I echo what Frank is saying, and I think that the tax credit is going to be so helpful in terms of down payment assistance. This is such a key factor in one niche that really affects the Black community. Along with that, is access to credit. As Frank mentioned, manual underwriting would give the underwriter some more time to look at the different nuances and cultural differences between our communities — the Black community and the Hispanic community. Frank and I often talk about how different they are, and Patricia Arvielo, the co-founder and president of New American Funding talks about that, too. There are just different cultural issues that affect our communities, and they show up not only in credit but throughout the being of our culture.

Honest Conversations is a miniseries that examines the state of minority homeownership and the factors that have contributed to inequality within American housing. Each Wednesday, tune into HousingWire Daily as we aim to provide listeners with a greater perspective on how race, housing and wealth intersect and what experts are doing to close the gap. Sponsored by Caliber Home Loans and hosted and produced by Alcynna Lloyd.

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