August 16, 2010 — Austin

Today, the Texas REALTORS® announced an initiative to help more homeowners take advantage of housing-assistance programs and make homeownership more affordable for Texans. In particular, this initiative aims to expand homeownership opportunities for “workforce homebuyers,” which refers to residents who earn up to 150 percent of their city’s median income, including public servants such as school teachers, police officers, firefighters and nurses.

“For many communities in Texas, we’ve been victims of our own success and watched as cities prospered and property values steadily increased,” said Bill Jones, chairman of the Texas REALTORS®. “In some cases, however, values have increased so much that members of the workforce can no longer afford to live in the communities they serve.”

Workforce housing is an important issue because it’s crucial that public servants be able to live in the cities they serve. In addition, it’s difficult to recruit workers if they can’t afford to be local homeowners.

On a broader scale, Texas ranks 44th out of 50 states in overall homeownership, due in part to a need for more affordable housing. That homeownership gap is widest in Texas among Hispanics, who account for 36 percent of the state’s population but only 5 percent of homeowners.

Chairman Jones continued, “The good news for our state is that many programs do exist to make homeownership more affordable for Texans. The bad news is that few people know about them and even fewer know how to take advantage of them.”

To address this issue, the Texas REALTORS® has launched, an online searchable database of housing-assistance programs in Texas. In addition, Texas Realtors are partnering with local lenders, housing counselors and others throughout the state to host educational events for consumers. At these events, attendees will learn about workforce-housing issues, consumer needs for workforce housing and Texas-specific programs available to make homeownership more affordable.

“We all hear a lot about ‘housing assistance,’ but few know whether they qualify for these programs or how they work,” Jones said. “Through this initiative, we’re informing consumers and Texas Realtors about programs that can help more Texans start on their own path to responsible, sustainable homeownership.”