President Bush is calling for lawmakers to pass legislation to help low-income Americans to buy their own homes by the end of the decade. According to the White House, the plan is primarily aimed at benefiting ethnic minorities.
About three-quarters of all white Americans own their homes, and less than half of all blacks and Hispanics do. President Bush says the government should step in to help minorities and close "this homeownership gap."
"We have got a problem here in America that we have to address," Mr. Bush said, "Too many American families and too many minorities do not own a home."
The president says he wants to set aside $200 million in federal grants to help low-income families with down payments. He also wants to provide incentives to builders to construct more affordable housing. Mr. Bush notes these steps will benefit families and enable the housing industry to grow and create new jobs. The housing industry has played a key role in recent years in the U.S. economy.
The president says as America acts to protect itself from terrorist attacks, it must not lose sight of the need to defend its economic security. "The two securities go hand in hand," he said, "If anyone wants a job and can not find one, that means we have got a problem."
The president spoke after touring a construction site in Atlanta, Georgia - a city with one of the highest rates of black homeownership in the nation. The site sits in a neighborhood where new housing is replacing areas once plagued by crime and drugs.
The president said he wants to make sure that others get the same opportunity to "own a piece of the American dream."