July 16, 2021
Pressley, Waters, Colleagues Unveil Bill to Help Close Racial Wealth and Homeownership Gaps
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (CA-45), along with Representatives Al Green (TX-09), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Cindy Axne (IA-03) and Sylvia García (TX-29), introduced the Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021, bold legislation to help address the U.S. racial wealth and homeownership gaps by providing $100 billion toward downpayment and other financial assistance for first-generation homebuyers to purchase their first home.
The legislation was introduced as part of a larger legislative housing package led by Chairwoman Waters and co-sponsored by Congresswoman Pressley.
“Black and brown families have been historically denied the opportunity to own homes and build wealth due to generations of precise and intentional policy violence like redlining and Jim Crow, so we must be just as intentional in rooting out these disparities and affirming economic justice,” said Rep. Pressley. “Our bill seeks to do just that by supporting those from historically marginalized communities in Massachusetts and across the country to access robust homeowner assistance and begin building wealth. I thank Chairwoman Waters and our colleagues for their partnership and look forward to seeing this legislation across the finish line.”
The Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021 authorizes a $100 billion grant program for states to be used for downpayment assistance to first generation homebuyers. Homebuyers may receive up to $20,000 in assistance or $25,000 if the home buyer qualifies as a socially and economically disadvantaged individual, and funds may be used to assist eligible home buyers to purchase homes either through down payment assistance, closing cost assistance, payments to reduce the interest rate on a mortgage, or home modifications that individuals have to make pre-occupancy if they are individuals with a disability.
A first-time homebuyer will qualify if their household income is at or below 120 area median income (AMI), for area where they are purchasing the home or where they are located; at or below 180 AMI based on where they are purchasing the home, in high-cost markets; and if their parents or guardians do not currently own a home.
Congresswoman Pressley has consistently advocated for race-conscious policies to help close the racial wealth gap in America. In February, she and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the American Opportunity Accounts Act, also known as “Baby Bonds,” to create a federally-funded savings account for every American child at birth that will grow each year depending on family income.
She has also been a leader in the fight to cancel student loan debt, which disproportionately impacts people of color. In February, Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Warren, along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and their colleagues, reintroduced their bicameral resolution outlining a bold plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis by using existing authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for Federal student loan borrowers.
In May 2020, she introduced the Saving Our Street Act with then-Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) to provide economic relief to small businesses with less than 10 employees, with a specific focus on Black and brown-owned businesses.
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