BUSH ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW HUD "ZERO DOWN PAYMENT" MORTGAGE: Initiative Aimed at Removing Major Barrier to HomeownershipLAS VEGAS - As part of President Bush`s ongoing effort to help American families achieve the dream of homeownership, Federal Housing Commissioner John C. Weicher today announced that HUD is proposing to offer a "zero down payment" mortgage, the most significant initiative by the Federal Housing Administration in over a decade. This action would help remove the greatest barrier facing first-time homebuyers - the lack of funds for a down payment on a mortgage.Speaking at the National Association of Home Builders` annual convention, Commissioner Weicher indicated that the proposal, part of HUD`s Fiscal Year 2005 budget request, would eliminate the statutory requirement of a minimum three percent down payment for FHA-insured single-family mortgages for first-time homebuyers."Offering FHA mortgages with no down payment will unlock the door to homeownership for hundreds of thousands of American families, particularly minorities," said HUD`s Acting Secretary Alphonso Jackson. "President Bush has pledged to create 5.5 million new minority homeowners this decade, and this historic initiative will help meet this goal."Preliminary projections indicate that the new FHA mortgage product would generate about 150,000 homebuyers in the first year alone."This initiative would not only address a major hurdle to homeownership and allow many renters to afford their own home, it would help these families build wealth and become true stakeholders in their communities," said Commissioner Weicher. "In addition, it would help spur the production of new housing in this country."For those that choose to participate in the Zero Down Payment program, HUD would charge a modestly higher insurance premium, which would be phased down over several years, and would also require families to undergo pre-purchase housing counseling.HUD is the nation`s housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation`s fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.