The U.S. Senate approved a bill to provide $200 million a year over the next four years to help low-income families with down payments for their first homes.
Proponents said that, according to surveys, many families can make monthly mortgage payments on a home but can't come up with the funds for the down payment.
"This legislation will help many families that would not otherwise have the opportunity to own a home," said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has said that the bill would especially aid minority families. While 68% of all Americans are homeowners, fewer than 50% of blacks and Latinos own their own homes, according to HUD.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), passed by voice vote Monday. The House passed its version of the measure last month.