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Monday, June 24, 2024

Kamala Harris bolsters homeownership, small business assistance during Milwaukee visit

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about new funding for housing counseling agencies and discussed small business investments during her fourth visit to Wisconsin in 2024.

MILWAUKEE — Vice President Kamala Harris visited Milwaukee Thursday to bolster the Biden administration’s efforts to bridge the homeownership gap and promote small businesses. 

In Harris’ third stop on her multi-state Economic Opportunity Tour, she held a moderated conversation about racial bias in the homebuyer process with comedian D.L. Hughley. 

“There are those who lack access to either information or relationships that allow them to then translate all of those skills into something that will actually be real and by extension, benefit and attach with community and society,” Harris said. “I decided to travel the country and share with folks what resources are available and resources that are not just about helping folks get by, but get ahead.” 

Harris said the goal of the tour is to recognize the opportunities and disparities that exist for underserved communities trying to obtain housing. 

In her conversation with Hughley, Harris said it is important to talk about segregation, redlining and racial bias in home appraisals because these issues contribute to homeownership gaps. 

“[There] are so many examples of how racial bias has undervalued a Black homeowner’s home in such a way that if they rely on that biased appraisal, they will receive less value for their property,” Harris said. 

Due to the small number of home appraisers of color, the Biden administration has taken steps to mitigate biases in the home appraisal process, including the creation of a report line.

Harris was also joined by Department of Housing and Urban Development Acting Secretary Adrianna Todman and Deputy Secretary of Treasury Wally Adeyemo where they spotlighted the Biden administration's initiatives to boost employment rates and investments made to help underserved Americans achieve homeownership. 

The number of first-time homebuyers is at its highest rate in 20 years, according to Todman. Through housing counselors, Todman said homeownership will be even more accessible.

“Black and brown people have faced historical disadvantages when it comes to buying a home. It's one of the reasons why this administration has been so focused on making sure that our services are getting to the people who need it the most,” Todman said. 

Additionally, Harris and Todman announced $40 million in new funding to expand housing counseling services across the country Thursday morning. Roughly $300,000 of the funding will be allocated to Wisconsin housing counseling agencies. 

“Housing counselors in many ways are the unsung heroes of the home buying journey. For a lot of people, working with a housing counselor is the very reason that they were able to make their dreams come true,” Todman said. 

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The funding aims to help homebuyers improve credit, find down payment assistance programs and understand loan terms and types of mortgages. Housing counselors also help renters navigate the rental application process and find housing. 

Harris last visited the state in April, when she touted new rules for nursing home staffing and rallied voters around the issue of abortion access in La Crosse. She also visited Madison in March to boost new labor initiatives. 

The Biden administration has made numerous campaign stops as the race for the presidency remains tight in the crucial swing state. This trip will mark her fourth visit to Wisconsin this year and eighth during her term as vice president. 

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Anna Kleiber

Anna Kleiber is the state news editor for The Daily Cardinal. She previously served as the arts editor. Anna has written in-depth on elections, legislative maps and campus news. She is an intern with WisPolitics and a summer intern with Madison Magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @annakleiber03.

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