Costa Hosts Housing Roundtable to Increase Affordable Homeownership in Merced County
Merced, CA – In his continued efforts to increase access to affordable, safe, and secure housing in the San Joaquin Valley, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) hosted a housing roundtable today to bring together key leaders to collaborate on making homeownership an affordable option in Merced County. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Regional Administrator Jimmy Stracner, additional regional HUD officials, and nearly 20 housing leaders and local officials participated in the roundtable, which also marked this year’s launch of National Homeownership Month.
Merced County’s homeownership statistics fall well below the national average. According to 2016 Census data, the homeownership rate in Merced County is 52.2%, compared to 63.5% nationally.
“Homeownership is the foundation for a strong middle class in America,” said Rep. Jim Costa, who has long worked to make homeownership affordable in the Valley. “The single largest investment that the average American family makes in a lifetime is the purchase of a home. The values of pride of property, understanding the complexity of financing a home, and living in a house where families can flourish are all made possible by homeownership. The purpose of today’s roundtable was to have local and federal leaders sit down together and consider ways to provide more opportunities for homeownership in Merced County.”
During the roundtable, HUD officials discussed the federal agencies and programs specifically aimed at helping Americans buy and maintain safe and secure housing. These include the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and a nationwide network of nearly 2,100 housing counseling agencies certified by the Office of Housing Counseling (OHC). More than 1.2 million people turned to the FHA for home financing last year alone, while the education and support provided by housing counselors reduce the likelihood homeowners at risk of default end up facing foreclosure by 30%.
“We at HUD are determined to sustain a housing market that is honest and fair for every hard working American,” said HUD Regional Administrator Jimmy Stracner. “Today, we renew our commitment to all responsible future homeowners that seek their share of the American dream.”
“Homeownership is such an integral part of the American dream and experience. We need to explore and take all creative steps necessary to best position our Valley’s residents so that everyone within our region has the opportunity to sustainably own a home,” stated Mark Hendrickson, Director of Community & Economic Development for Merced County.
Kim Rogina, President of the Merced County Association of Realtors, was one of the local housing leaders who attended today’s roundtable. She shared, “The Merced County Association of Realtors supports and encourages the American dream of homeownership. We are a hardworking community that strives for an affordable and abundant supply of homes for our citizens. Our Association’s Charitable Foundation just received a grant of $25,000 from the California Association of Realtors to aid first time home buyer’s with down payment assistance. We are in the process of fundraising to match that amount. The quality of our community depends on the opportunities afforded individuals and families.
Congressman Costa hopes today is just the beginning of this collaborative effort. He reflected on today’s roundtable with, “We have had bipartisan policies for almost 100 years to encourage and make affordable homeownership. I strongly believe this is how we create healthy communities and a lasting middle class.”