Homeownership has deep roots in the American soul. But until recently getting a mortgage was a challenge for low-income families. Many of these families were minorities, which naturally made the subject of special interest to Henry Cisneros, who, in 1993, became the first Hispanic head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  
He had President Clinton’s ear, an easy charisma and a determination to increase a homeownership rate that had been stagnant for nearly three decades. Thus was born the National Homeownership Strategy, which promoted ownership as patriotic and an easy win for all. “We were trying to be creative,” Mr. Cisneros recalls.