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New Neighborworks America Survey: Homeownership Still Out Of Reach For Many Minorities and Low- to Moderate-Income Families
For black and Hispanic people, bills and debt reduction take priority over long-term financial stability

By LINDSAY MOORE
NeighborWorks America

Washington, D.C. (June 4, 2019)—The vast majority of Americans say owning a home increases financial stability, but when it comes to priorities minorities are more concerned about meeting everyday obligations, bills and paying off debt than putting away funds for a home down payment, according to a new NeighborWorks America survey. While 76 percent of Americans agree that owning a home increases a person’s financial stability, many people still see homeownership as beyond reach, primarily due to not understanding the process. Seventy percent of U.S. adults say the homebuying process is complicated. Further, minority families, particularly black and Hispanic people, find that they are missing the financial planning skills and knowledge to transition from renting to home ownership.

The NeighborWorks America survey offers insight into patterns and attitudes regarding homeownership and renting in the nation and the impact of debt and other dynamics on buying a home vs. renting. The study was conducted in April and May with an online panel of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older and included a separate oversample of 614 minority adults.

“While two-thirds of the general population own their home, for black and Hispanic people, the numbers are much lower. There is a clear opportunity to help minorities bridge the wealth and attainment gap by supporting them in making good financial decisions,” said NeighborWorks America President and CEO Marietta Rodriguez. “We want to make the opportunity to pursue homeownership more available.”

Overall, black and Hispanic people report more vulnerability and less cash on hand than whites.

• 21% of black people said their most important financial goal for 2019 is to pay bills and everyday expenses, with 6% ranking saving for a home as their No. 1 financial goal.

• Among Hispanic people, 20% said paying down credit card debt is their top financial goal for 2019. Eight percent ranked saving for a down payment to buy a home as most important.

 

Seeking Help With Finances

Eight out of ten Americans are unaware of any programs that provide information about the home buying process.  As a result, they are likely missing out on key information that can help them make better decisions as they purchase a home. Black and Hispanic people express more interest in financial planning courses than the general population. Sixty percent of black and Hispanic people say they would be interested in financial planning classes that would help them improve their financial situation compared to 46 percent of all U.S. adults.

NeighborWorks America recommends that people interested in homeownership always work with a HUD-approved housing counselor as a first step. A housing counselor can help improve their credit score, provide information about down payment assistance and down payment assistance programs, and help evaluate their situation and create the right plan. Find a housing counselor at a local NeighborWorks organization near you.

For more information on the NeighborWorks America survey, go to www.NeighborWorks.org/housingsurvey

For 40 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Our network of excellence includes nearly 250 members in every state, D.C. and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks America offers grant funding, peer-exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools and access to training, as the nation’s leading trainer of housing and community development professionals. NeighborWorks network organizations provide residents in their communities with affordable homes, owned and rented; financial counseling and coaching; community building through resident engagement; and collaboration in the areas of health, employment and education.

 

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Governor Hogan Announces Launch of Student Debt Repayment Plan
Will Provide Additional Access for Maryland State Employees in Critical Areas

By SHAREESE CHURCHILL
Office of the Governor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (June 3, 2019)—Governor Larry Hogan today announced the launch of SmartWork, an important component of the administration's overall college affordability and student debt relief package. The governor introduced SmartWork in 2018 as part of a comprehensive series of initiatives to make a college education more affordable and provide relief to Marylanders burdened by student debt. The SmartWork component for state employees is now being launched following completion of negotiations with the state employee unions.

“Our administration is doing everything we can to ensure that all Marylanders have access to a college education, which includes making college as affordable and accessible as possible,” said Governor Hogan. “This innovative program will provide many of our hardworking state employees relief from the high levels of college debt that many families face.”

SmartWork’s Student Loan Repayment Plan (SLRP) will offer Maryland state employees working in specified shortage areas—such as nurses, correctional officers, police, and IT workers—the opportunity to receive state assistance with student loan debt. Current state employees in eligible job classifications who are paying down their children’s student loans may also qualify for this benefit, for children age 25 and younger.

The explosion in student loan debt in the last 20 years is unprecedented. Student loan debt now totals $1.6 trillion, which has recently surpassed credit card debt in volume. With nearly 60% of Maryland college students graduating with student debt, averaging more than $27,000 per student, this massive debt is preventing Marylanders from buying homes and investing in their retirement.

Eligible state employees [may] download an application and other documents verifying school(s) attended and loan payments that have been made by the employee during the repayment interval. The state expects demand to be robust and is preparing for a large volume of applications.

The maximum benefit is $20,000 over a ten-year period. The initiative is administered by the Office of Personnel Services and Benefits of the Department of Budget and Management. Additional information can be found at https://dbm.

maryland.gov/employees/Pages/SmartWork.aspx

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