Advisory group aims to help 20,000 Black people in DC become homeowners by 2030
The Black Homeownership Strike Force recommendations include increasing resources to help residents transfer their homes to their children and heirs and developing a program for those at risk of foreclosure.
If all goes as Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and an advisory group have planned, by 2030 the District will have 20,000 new Black homeowners.
According to The Washington Post, Bowser assembled what would become known as the Black Homeownership Strike Force — a group of local advocates and city officials — to present ideas to increase Black homeownership in the District. The rates have dropped over the past 10 years.
On Oct. 3, the group provided 10 recommendations to help the city accomplish the goal. One is for Bowser to increase resources to help residents transfer their homes to their children and heirs. Another is that the mayor develop a program specifically for Black homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Yet another is to explore ways to speed up zoning and permits for affordable housing units.
Strike force members said the 20,000 by 2030 goal is the right mix of realistic and ambitious and will aid in the city’s removal of dated, discriminatory housing laws that were once common in America and are still to blame for lower mortgage rates among Black people.
“It’s not that folks aren’t mortgage-ready; it’s about the roadblocks that are in people’s way that prevent them from getting the mortgage,” said task force co-chair the Rev. Graylan Hagler.
Continued Hagler, who co-founded Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, which offers mortgage programs to help new homeowners. “We needed to figure out how to tear down that wall so that people are able to really get in there and focus on everyday working families and poor folks in our city, and how they can get in the fray and be able to compete.”
According to the 27-page strike force findings, racial covenants and inequities in mortgage financing through practices such as redlining have created obstacles for Black homeowners and fostered homeownership inequality in the District.
The report cited statistics from the American Community Survey that revealed that approximately 34% of the city’s Black residents own their houses, down from 46% in 2005. Between 1990 and 2019, the percentage of white homeowners climbed from 47% to 49%. Black residents decreased from around 70% in 1970 to less than 50% over the last 10 years.
The strike force also urged the city to use the $10 million Bowser allocated for the strike force to establish a public-private fund to provide Black homebuyers with affordable housing options. While both Bowser and Hagler agree that these funds are a significant contribution, they are insufficient to achieve the 20,000 by 2030 objective. The mayor said her administration’s first priority will be to determine whether all of the strike force’s recommendations are “exhaustive enough.”
She noted that she was particularly interested in learning more about how the city might assist prospective homebuyers to compete for houses with the area’s numerous wealthy investors, a problem strike force members repeatedly brought up. “I think we need to find some other ways to attack that.”
Bowser — who is running for reelection this year and expected to win — said she will consider the cost of implementing the recommendations and confirm their legality before presenting them next year in her budget to the D.C. Council.
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