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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 5, 2003

Press Contacts:
Adam Glantz
Department of Housing and Urban Development
(212) 264-1100

HUD SECRETARY MARTINEZ CELEBRATES HOMEOWNERSHIP MONTH, APPLAUDS NEW BRONX HOMEOWNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT HUD Secretary Mel Martinez

HUD Secretary Mel Martinez


Visiting New York City as part of a nationwide bus tour highlighting June as National Homeownership Month, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez joined Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner Judith Calogero, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Jerilyn Perine, and Highbridge Community CDC President Monsignor Donald Sakano, in touring a new homeownership development in the Highbridge section of the Bronx. Former Syracuse mayor and HUD Assistant Secretary Roy Bernardi also participated in this event to promote the American Dream of homeownership.

The bus, known as the Homeownership Express, is traveling around the country to promote the feasibility of achieving the American Dream of homeownership. The bus contains information about financing, counseling, downpayment assistance, and other aspects about the homebuying process.

"Homeownership is more than bricks and mortar; it is really about empowering families and strengthening neighborhoods," said Housing Secretary Mel Martinez. "There is no greater evidence of the importance of homeownership than right here in the Highbridge neighborhood of the Bronx which has transformed itself from vacant lots and dilapidated buildings into a vibrant working class community whose residents long to become homeowners."

"All Americans realize that homeownership improves our neighborhoods, enhances our communities and offers individuals a great deal of personal pride," Governor George E. Pataki said. "I applaud President Bush for his foresight and for making these investments in neighborhoods like the Highbridge section of the Bronx that will increase minority homeownership and provide more New Yorkers and Americans with the opportunity to live the American Dream."

"I am proud that my Office has been very supportive of all the major housing programs initiated in the Bronx, including the Highbridge New Foundations Housing Program ," said Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. "I am delighted that my Office was able to contribute $600,000 from our capital fund to make these homes a reality. I look forward to supporting other such worthwhile endeavors promoted by such organization as the New York City Housing Partnership, Habitat for Humanity and Nehemiah Houses, for example. These programs have made it possible to build affordable homes and, at the same time, made it attractive for our citizens to remain in the Bronx."

HPD Commssioner Jerilyn Perine said "Homeowners want to protect the value of their investment and stand for the things vital to neighborhood stability: safe streets, good schools, playgrounds and nearby places to show and work."

"Working families of our communities are now able to buy their own homes in a renewed Hughbridge - a neighborhood that was once dominated by vacant lots and abandoned buildings," said Highbridge CDC President Monsignor Donald Sakano. "These hard-working families, many of whom are first-time homebuyers purchasing a two-family house, are not only providing a new home for themselves, but renting the other unit to a low-income family. A perfect strategy to help address our housing needs."

"Last year, Fannie Mae pledged its support to President Bush and Secretary Martinez with a ten-point plan outlining an extraordinary set of goals to increase homeownership and break down barriers to underserved families," said Naomi Bayer, director of Fannie Mae's New York Partnership Office. "We are proud to stand here today with HUD and our housing partners in New York, in support of their efforts to bring the American Dream of homeownership closer to the American ideal of equality."

Upon completion, the townhome development will include 60 two-family houses built on formerly city-owned land through the New Foundations program, an HPD initiative designed to facilitate construction of one- to four-family owner occupied homes. The 18 homes, expected to be completed this summer, are priced at $253,000 each. Homebuyers will finance their houses with conventional loans or through FHA.

To finance the townhouse development, Highbridge Community HDFC, a non-profit community-based organization, invested $3.684 million of revenues generated by the efficient management of the Highbridge Unity Apartments (HUA). HUA consists of 29 formerly city-owned buildings that were rehabilitated between 1989 and 1991 with city capital money and HPD administrative and technical support. The Highbridge Unity initiative provided 722 affordable rentals for very low-, low- and moderate-income households. Several families currently renting apartments in Highbridge Unity are purchasing townhomes.

Last year President Bush announced a goal of creating 5.5 million new homeowners by the year 2010, and issued "America Homeownership Challenge," a call to the real estate and mortgage finance industries to work in partnership to help achieve this goal. The Blueprint for the American Dream Partnership, created last year by Martinez in response to President Bush's call, is a coalition involving many segments of the housing industry.

Beginning in June 1997, HUD marked a week-long national homeownership observance. However, for the second year in a row, the Bush Administration is highlighting the month of June to underscore the importance of homeownership and to focus national attention on initiatives expanding the American Dream to even more Americans. More information on homeownership month can be found at www.hud.gov/homeownership, a new web page especially designed to provide important information and tips about owning a home, and also providing links to all of The Blueprint for the American Dream Partners. The Spanish-language counterpart is found at espanol.hud.gov.

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov.




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