The Bush administration's 2005 budget proposal appears packed with more than the usual goodies to support homeownership. Among the line items:

  • Zero-down payments.

    The most publicized package was the proposal to eliminate the 3 percent down payment requirement on FHA loans. The proposal would help an estimated 150,000 families each year buy their first home. In early February, Rep. Pat Tiberi (R.-Ohio), a member of the House Housing Subcommittee, introduced a similar zero down paymentpro-gram for first-time home buyers seeking loans insured by the FHA.

  • Housing Counseling.

    A record $45 million is to be used to support 550,000 families with home purchasing advice.

  • Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP).

    To fund so-called “sweat-equity” home-ownership programs, President Bush calls for $65 million. This proposal would provide grants to support nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

  • Mortgage Insurance Premium.

    The budget includes a reduction in the annual insurance premium for new construction loans from 50 basis points to 45 basis points.

  • On the negative side, critics complain that the homeownership initiatives fall short in helping people who are struggling in more expensive cities. And the Mortgage Bankers Association expressed concern that assistance for “brownfield” redevelopment would be zeroed out.