Virginia’s Senators Want to Help First-Generation Homebuyers Build Wealth

Virginia's two senators, Sen. Mark Warner, right, and Sen. Tim Kaine, both Democrats, walk to a closed-door meeting in the Old Senate Chamber as Republicans and Democrats gather for a showdown over presidential nominees that have been blocked by a GOP filibuster, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, July 15, 2013. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insisted in advance that Republicans permit yes-or-no confirmation votes on all seven of the nominees at issue. If they won't, he declared, Democrats will change the Senate's rules to strip them of their ability to delay. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By Carolyn Fiddler

July 27, 2023

The bill aims to combat racism and systemic discrimination in housing by providing low and fixed-rate mortgages.

Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine recently introduced legislation to assist first-time, first-generation homebuyers accelerate wealth-building. Proponents of the bill hope to enhance the prospects of homeownership for millions of families and take substantial steps toward reducing racial wealth disparities.

The proposed bill, known as the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers (LIFT) Act, was introduced  in the U.S. House and the Senate. It seeks to provide new homeowners with a 20-year mortgage plan that would result in a monthly payment similar to that of a standard 30-year loan. This approach enables those who have been historically underrepresented in the housing market to accumulate equity at twice the pace, promoting faster wealth growth.

“Homeownership is one of the key ways Americans build capital and wealth. Unfortunately, racism and systemic discrimination in our housing laws have put this opportunity out of reach for far too many families of color,” said Warner. “The LIFT Act will help narrow the racial wealth gap.”

Kaine, a former fair housing attorney, emphasized that home ownership not only represents an essential part of the American dream but also serves as a significant means of building generational wealth. 

“I’m proud to be joining my colleagues in introducing this bill to help first-generation homebuyers, particularly those from communities of color, build wealth and help address the racial wealth gap in our country,” Kaine added.

The LIFT Act would create a program under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in collaboration with the Department of the Treasury, to sponsor low fixed-rate 20-year mortgages for first-time, first-generation homebuyers with incomes equal to or below 120% of their region’s median income. To achieve this, the Treasury would provide subsidies for the interest rate and origination fees associated with these 20-year mortgages, ensuring that the monthly payments align with those of a 30-year FHA-insured mortgage.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

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