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No Down Payments to Help Housing Squeeze

May 22, 1988

Dick Turpin's Column (May 1) struck a nerve.

The height of federal involvement in developing affordable middle-class housing, and the greatest housing and economic boom the nation has ever known, came from the late '40s to the late '60s as millions of veterans bought their first homes through the Veterans Administration, prospered, and moved up to second and third homes.

Now, almost 20 years after the end of the draft, there aren't enough people eligible for VA loans to make much of a difference in the housing market. More and more of the fewer and fewer buyers are second-timers or investors because no one else has the down payment or can qualify.

The solution is no-down mortgage funding. Period. If the government can't think of a reason to extend "VA terms" to lower-middle class citizens in general (without reinstituting the draft or going to war), then private enterprise should do so.

What we really need are a few bankers or investors who realize that 100% equity in a family's first home is worth a lot more in terms of long-term growth and potential return than 60% or 70% equity in a vacation home or an investment condo--or 90% in a BMW.

A no-down federal mortgage loan program on the scale of the postwar commitment would not only revivify the housing and related markets and create more jobs and production, but would go a long way toward solving the rental housing problem that threatens to consume more and more subsidy dollars if we have to rely on direct government intervention to handle it.

J.L. JONSSON

Long Beach

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