Housing issues on Capito's agenda

June 17, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Even the much-debated and discussed issue of a senior-friendly prescription drug plan relates to the issue of affordable housing, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito told a group Monday afternoon.

Capito, R-W.Va., spoke during a presentation regarding the Federal Home Loan Bank and ways more people can become homeowners. About 50 people attended the gathering at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg.

Capito answered questions and updated the group on a few bills winding through Congress.

The American Dream Down Payment Act of 2003, a bill that Capito co-sponsored, passed in committee. Capito predicted it will pass in the House of Representatives and proceed to the U.S. Senate.


Under the bill, $200 million in grants would be set aside for low-income and first-time buyers to help buy a house.

"You all know ... that the largest hurdle for many folks is that down payment," Capito said. Along with helping to pay a down payment, the bill would cover some closing costs, she said.

Teachers and uniformed personnel, including police officers and possibly members of the military, also would be able to take advantage of the bill, even if their incomes were a bit higher, Capito said.

A related bill, which Capito also co-sponsored, would offer tax credits to those who build or buy housing for low-income people, she said.

With the average home in the area priced at $155,000, Capito asked those in the audience whether someone making $15,000 or $16,000 a year could afford that. Shaking heads confirmed her suspicion that it was not possible, she said.

Sixty-seven percent of West Virginians own homes, Capito said.

When asked about the status of a prescription drug plan, Capito described herself as an "eternal optimist."

She said she believes the bill will pass. Geared toward low-income seniors, the bill probably will include a $35 monthly fee for seniors, with Medicare paying for 80 percent of drug costs.

"We'll pass it in the House," she said. "I believe the president will be signing it this summer."

If seniors can spend less on drugs, they can spend more money fixing up their homes, Capito said. And taking out a second mortgage might no longer be necessary, she said.

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