Debunking Myths Preventing Some from Owning Home

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra Medill News Service

During the recent home-buying boom, some groups have missed out.

While 76.1 percent of white Americans own their own homes, only 48.4 percent of African Americans and 48.7 percent of Hispanics can claim home ownership, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Freddie Mac, the nation's largest mortgage finance company, contends only half of this difference can be explained by income, age of households, and length of residence. For many minorities, simple misconceptions have kept them out of the market for houses.

Freddie Mac, together with Chase Home Finance, Bethel New Life Inc., the National Association of Real Estate Brokers Inc. and the Dearborn Realtist Board Inc., have launched in Chicago an awareness and outreach campaign called "Homeownership: Let the TRUTH Move You."

The focus of the campaign is to debunk common misconceptions that are preventing financially able families from buying a home.

"Home ownership is one of the hallmarks of the American dream," said U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th) in a press conference at the Chicago Cultural Center on Michigan Avenue. "But the reality of home ownership has escaped many people because of misinformation."

According to Freddie Mac research, almost half of African Americans and Latinos believe they need perfect credit to get a home loan, and that they need to put down 20 percent to secure it. More than half of African Americans and Latinos also believe that to secure a loan they must hold the same job for at least three years.

Chicago is one of 25 cities in the information campaign, which offers free one-hour educational sessions in English and Spanish.

The sessions will provide information on all aspects of home ownership, including costs associated with home buying and credit history requirements. …