Home Sweet Home

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," September 22, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Never before have so many Americans owned a home. But what about those who cannot afford to own a home? There are millions of them out there.

My next two guests want to change that. They're putting politics aside to do just that. After all, they know a thing or two about housing.

Joining us now to explain, the former housing chief under President Bush Sr. and the former V.P. nominee, Jack Kemp. And former HUD secretary under one Bill Clinton, Henry Cisneros.

Gentlemen welcome to both of you. This is sort of like having Batman and Spider-Man together here.

Jack, to you first. Why is this so important?

JACK KEMP, FORMER VIDE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, first of all let me say that having Henry Cisneros and Jack Kemp author a book on opportunity and progress, what we want to do, Neil is to elevate housing and homeownership opportunity for people everywhere in America, to the front of the political debate.

We think the debate over defense, homeland security, Iraq, taxes and deficits are important, but Cisneros was one of the most innovative HUD secretaries ever. I'd like to think that we had some progressive ideas in the Bush administration.

What we're trying to do is force this issue of housing, homelessness, substandard housing, affordable housing and homeownership opportunities for people into the political campaign, into both political parties, and make it a key issue circa 2004 election.

CAVUTO: It doesn't seem to be a key issue right now, Henry. Or am I missing something?

HENRY CISNEROS, FORMER HUD SECRETARY: No, Neil, Jack and I have worked well together over the years. I followed him as HUD secretary and was able to build on some of the things that he did. And so this sort of follows in that tradition of sort of working together on an important subject.

It has not been a high-level subject, and yet it ought to be. Twenty percent of gross domestic product is housing, investment, or housing-related investment, so it is huge in our economy. The last several years Alan Greenspan has testified any number of times it literally has kept the economy afloat.

So what we're trying to do is say, No. 1, let's keep this going by watching economic policy, interest rate policy, fiscal policy, to keep housing strong.

Let's also make sure even though the homeownership rate is strong that other folks who can be homeowners get the chance. The homeownership rate is 68 percent for the country. But, 48 percent for African-Americans and Latinos, a 20-point gap that doesn't need to be.

And then, as Jack said, there's that whole range of problems of the neediest Americans. You know, 800,000 on the street, on any given night who are homeless. Inadequate rent, rent supply, so that people are spending 50 percent of their income for just rent, when experts tell us it ought not be more than 30 percent.

CAVUTO: But here's the deal, guys, and you know the numbers far better than do I, but Jack to you on the subject. While we might want everyone who wants a home to own a home, if you don't earn a lot of money, short of a government bailout or helping hand for you, the market isn't going to provide it for you.

So, is the solution to Jack Kemp to have the government become directly involved in providing subsidies for homeownership?

KEMP: Well, we're not talking about subsidizing homeownership as much as we are talking about incentives in the system to encourage homeownership and bring the people of color, minority men and women and families up to 55 or 60 percent of their population owning their own home.

CAVUTO: Have you incentivized the lenders, Jack? How are you going to incentivize them?

KEMP: What we're talking about is using public/private partnership, talking about a low income housing tax credit, talking about a tax credit as President Bush has done for first-time homebuyers. FHA has a role to play.

CAVUTO: More of that. Henry, we're looking at more of that?

CISNEROS: Neil, we've propose 12 kind of ideas in this book and seven of them will not cost money. They are things like enforcing laws against predatory lending so people don't have their wealth taken away from them in central-city neighborhoods.

And things like just focusing on the fair housing law, so unfortunately discrimination plays a part, let's try and address it so people can have access to fair housing. A lot of them don't cost money.

But as Jack said others are things like creating homeownership tax credits that create an investment climate where people will build more affordable housing for home ownership. And it doesn't cost the government a lot of money, because we're trying to stimulate the market.

CAVUTO: All right. Henry Cisneros, I want to thank you, Jack Kemp. Whose name comes first on the book, by the way?

KEMP: Cisneros.

CISNEROS: Starts with a "C," in alphabetical order.

KEMP: Thanks for letting us talk about the new book coming out by the four of us.

CAVUTO: It's a great subject, guys. We look forward to it. Thank you very much.

CISNEROS: Thank you.

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