WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced their co-sponsorship of the Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021, legislation to address growing concern of rising home prices, lack of access to home-buying assistance, and the widening wealth and homeownership gaps in Virginia and throughout the country. This bill would provide federal grants, administered through local entities, to aid first-generation homebuyers with qualifying expenses toward purchasing their first home—including downpayment costs, closing costs, and costs to reduce the rates of interest. The Senators are pushing to include the legislation in the Build Back Better package.
“As a former fair housing attorney, I have long worked to increase access to affordable housing for Virginia families,” said Senator Kaine. “This bill will not only help first-time homebuyers achieve their dream of owning a home; it will also strengthen our communities by helping families build wealth and economic stability for generations to come. As I work with my colleagues to pass the Build Back Better bill, I will continue pushing to include this critical support to make homeownership more accessible for families across the Commonwealth.”
“The number one way Americans build wealth in this country is through homeownership, and this bill will make it easier for more people to own a home — particularly those who have been held back from this opportunity by structural inequality and racism for far too long. I am proud to join my colleagues in making the American dream more accessible to all Americans,” said Senator Warner.
Introduced by Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), the bill is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Accompanying legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters and has received enthusiastic support from housing, homeownership, and racial equity organizations across the country.
The Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021 has vast statewide and national support. A full list of endorsing organizations can be found here.
Last month, Warner and Kaine introduced the Low-Income First Time Homebuyers (LIFT) Act to establish a new program to help first-time, first-generation homebuyers – predominantly Americans of color – build wealth much more rapidly. The LIFT Act will establish a program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, to sponsor low fixed-rate 20-year mortgages for first-time, first-generation homebuyers who have incomes equal to or less than 120 percent of their area median income to increase access to homeownership for millions of families.