The Rev. Al Sharpton is calling on Senate Democrats to stop the Department of Housing and Urban Development from killing downpayment assistance programs that help Federal Housing Administration homebuyers just as the Democrats are trying to pass an FHA reform bill that also prohibits DPA programs.The civil rights activist said House Democrats have moved to block a HUD rule that would prohibit seller-funded downpayment assistance that Nehemiah Corporation of America and other nonprofits arrange for FHA borrowers. But Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., has been "missing in action," the Rev. Sharpton told reporters, when it comes to saving this homeownership program for minorities and low-income families. However, the Senate Banking Committee has approved an FHA reform bill that lowers the FHA downpayment requirement from 3.0% to 1.5% and prohibits seller-funded downpayment assistance on FHA loans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was trying to get the Senate to vote on an FHA reform bill Thursday. But Senate Republicans are stonewalling the Democrats on several major bills. The FHA reform bill's chances of getting through appear to be slim.

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