National Homeownership Month
June is National Homeownership Month, a time to reflect upon the impact owning a home has on household wealth, neighborhood stability and the nation’s broader economic health. June is also a time to highlight the organizations that work tirelessly all year to support homeowners in achieving their goals. Those organizations include the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Housing Administration, various lenders, real estate brokers and many others throughout the region and across the country.
Research shows that a household’s primary residence is often its largest asset, and that asset continues to serve as an important building block for long-term financial security. The latest edition of the Survey of Consumer Finances, published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, reports that the primary residence accounts for about one-quarter of all assets held by households in 2016, surpassing other financial assets, business interests and retirement accounts. Indeed, homeownership is a primary source of net worth for many Americans and is an important step in accumulating personal financial assets over the long term.
Along with many other organizations, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh (FHLBank Pittsburgh) and its member financial institutions recognize the value of homeownership, and in particular, the value of affordable housing. In dynamic and changing markets where home values continue to increase, homeownership can quickly become unattainable for individuals and families looking to make homeownership a reality.
Lori Graham, Manager Homeownership with FHLBank Pittsburgh, has worked in the affordable housing industry for more than 12 years and noted, “Being able to make homeownership a reality for people with lower incomes is extremely rewarding. We’ve been able to assist more than 18,000 first-time homebuyers achieve their goal of owning a home through First Front Door.” The First Front Door program provides down-payment and closing cost assistance up to $5,000 for first-time homebuyers. At times, the barrier to homeownership is the upfront cash required at settlement. First Front Door helps to alleviate this barrier.
There are other programs like First Front Door across the country that help reduce these obstacles as well. Those of us who work in the affordable housing industry tend to process data, review numbers and figures, and manage spreadsheets, closing disclosures, construction budgets, and the like. The numbers go on and on. But what we must never forget is that while we may get lost in these numbers, the numbers represent something much bigger. Each number is a reflection of the realities of real people, families and neighbors who are being handed the keys to their own home for the first time. Yesterday, someone somewhere took a picture on their front lawn next to a “sold” sign. Today, someone is signing a stack of loan closing documents with feelings of excitement and pride. And tomorrow, someone will be able to say, “I am a homeowner.”
Thank you for the work you do in the industry – never forget its impact on homeowners and our communities.