Bill to aid families with down payments clears Senate

From Bloomberg News

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 Mortgage Bankers Assn. of America, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the National Assn. of Realtors, the National Assn. of Mortgage Brokers and America's Community Bankers support the bill.

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.

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