A Phil Hall Op-Ed: Earlier this morning, the Biden administration issued a lengthy statement under the heading “White House Announces New Actions on Homeownership.” This was something peculiar, considering the White House has barely issued any actions on homeownership since Joe Biden shuffled into its residency.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to expanding access to homeownership, ensuring homeowners can afford to stay in their homes and make the repairs they need, and that the wealth building potential of homeownership works equally for everyone,” the statement insisted, highlighting a “proposed $16 billion for the Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit, which would result in more than 400,000 homes built or rehabilitated, creating a pathway for more families to buy a home and start building wealth.”
The White House also said the president “proposed a $10 billion down payment assistance program that would ensure first-time homebuyers whose parents do not own a home can access homeownership alongside a $100 million down payment assistance pilot to expand homeownership opportunities for first-generation and/or low wealth first-time homebuyers.”
Furthermore, the White House observed that the “Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) first-time homebuyer rate under the Biden-Harris Administration is the highest it has been since at least 2000” while the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 7,100 direct housing loans in the past fiscal year “is the highest number of loans since 2010.”
Buried in these self-congratulatory accolades was an inconvenient fact: the White House sneaked in a very brief admission about “the lack of homes on the market and current interest rates,” but rather than take responsibility for those problems it passed the buck and claimed that “to truly ensure homeownership is accessible to all households, we need Congress to act.”
This new declaration on housing is eerily familiar to the White House’s declaration on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan – the White House stubbornly stated that action was a rousing success when it was clearly quite the opposite. The notion that this administration is “committed to expanding access to homeownership” is contradicted by Biden-appointed regulators who seem to be doing everything in their power to ensure people cannot obtain and retain their own homes.
The release of the White House statement coincides with the opening of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) 2023 Annual Convention & Expo. MBA President and CEO Bob Broeksmit did not toss air kisses at the administration in his opening speech, informing the mortgage industry attendees that “Washington, D.C. is fighting against you. At a time when you and your customers need relief, you’re at risk of being hit with the most extreme overregulation. At a time when you desperately need stability, your own government is sowing the seeds of profound instability. Honestly, Washington is pushing you and our economy in the wrong direction. And no one will suffer more than American families – especially minority, low-income, and first-time homebuyers. This madness must stop before it’s too late.”
At no point in his presidency has Biden made a single speech related to homeownership, nor have his handlers allowed him to answer any questions about mortgage rates nearing 8%, mortgage application activity plummeting to 1990s levels and foreclosure filings slowly rising. If we had a normal housing market, the FHA and USDA would not be setting lending records.
And the multi-billion-dollar proposals are meaningless in an economy pockmarked by the wretched impact of Bidenomics. Even worse, the administration fails to think anything out properly – its half-assed proposals advocate for artificially inflating homeownership quantity without pausing to worry about the financial wherewithal of the people being shoehorned into homes they cannot afford to buy or maintain. I guess Biden’s gang forgot the lessons of 2008.
Maybe it would have been better if the White House didn’t bother to volunteer this statement. After all, you know the old cliché attributed to one of Biden’s predecessors: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
Phil Hall is editor at Weekly Real Estate News. He can be reached at [email protected].
Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons