On November 10, 1989, President Bush announced a set of new initiatives and goals to be known as HOPE--Homeownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere.
This is the Administration's first major housing program and one which clearly reflects Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Jack Kemp's vision for empowering poor Americans through economic independence and home ownership.
In a speech delivered in April, Secretary Kemp pledged that one million low-income families and first-time buyers will reach the goal of home ownership by 1992 through policies implemented by the Bush Administration.
Offering over ten new initiatives, the HOPE agenda amounts to $7.2 billion in total resources over three years, including more than 44.0 billion in budgeted authority, $1.5 billion in tax incentives and $1.7 billion in State, local and non-profit matching funds.
The overriding theme of HOPE is to empower people to take control of their lives, their homes and their destinies. In this respect, empowerment means introducing incentives to our housing and economic systems so that everyone has the chance to reach as high as their aspirations and abilities will take them.
Empowerment is furthered through HOPE initiatives in four principal ways:
Empowering people with the opportunity to manage and own their homes and apartments. Broadening ownership of private property will improve the maintenance of housing, increase pride of ownership and give low income people more reasons to save, invest and plan for the future.
Empowering people to enter the economic mainstream by removing barriers to jobs, entrepreneurship and economic growth. The Administration's Enterprise Zone initiative is the cornerstone of a free-market strategy to create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the low-income which will in turn aid in their quest to move from tenant to homeowner status.
Empowering people with better access to affordable housing and home ownership opportunities, especially for first-time home buyers. HOPE will expand these opportunities by extending the low-income housing tax credit, permitting the use of IRAs for first-time home buyers, and creating Housing Opportunity Zones to help revitalize the private sector housing market.
Empowering low-income people to live in dignity and independence by offering necessary support services. Examples of programs presently available which offer such support are "Shelter Plus Care" and "Operation Bootstrap".
By strengthening the link between effort and reward, by increasing equity stakes in homes and neighborhoods, and by expanding job creation and enterprise, the Administration's new HOPE package will help open a path of opportunity out of poverty and begin to recapture the American dream for millions who have been left behind.
Robert A. Rifenberick is director of housing development for the Buffalo Office of HUD and is responsible for the delivery of all HUD housing programs in upstate New York.