Developers Eye Hispanics

Amy Grant, AP, May 25, 2007

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By 2010 the country’s total of Hispanic households is projected to grow from today’s 10 million to 13.5 million. The overall rate of home ownership climbed in the 1990s to its highest ever at 68 percent, and Latino home ownership during that time rose faster than that of any other group, by 6 percent to 48 percent, according to the Census Bureau.

Immigration is not driving the growth, said Henry G. Cisneros, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration, and now founder and chairman of CityView, a real estate development company in San Antonio.

Hispanic-American families tend to be younger and larger, Cisneros said, and their numbers are growing not only in states such as Florida, Texas and California but across the Midwest and elsewhere.

They include the first generation of middle-class Hispanics to enter the housing market on a widespread scale, he said.

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Builders are responding with designs they believe will appeal to this new diversity in buyers, Cisneros said.

There are, for example, designs meant for multigenerational families who want more bedrooms, with bathrooms in hallways that everyone can share.

Some homes may include finished garages that can be converted into bedrooms in future years. Others may include bedrooms both upstairs and downstairs, for elderly grandparents.

These homes may place kitchens at the center of the social space and include gas stoves suitable for open-flame cooking of traditional recipes.

Home plans emphasize gathering spaces in front of the homes, allowing neighbors to socialize more easily, said Fernando Pages Ruiz, a builder specializing in affordable housing for minorities in Lincoln, Neb.

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