This post was originally published on The Washington Informer
By Jamila Bey
Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a $10 million Black Homeownership Fund yesterday, as part of the District’s 2023 budget that seeks to tackle longstanding racial disparities. With the goal to increase Black homeownership and helping longtime residents to be able to stay in their home, Bowser has created a specific initiative. There is now a “Strike Force” to boost Black homeownership and to design policies and programs to support wealth-building opportunities through homeownership.
“We have developed many programs to give residents a fair shot, but addressing long-term racial disparities in homeownership and household wealth for Black Washingtonians requires new, innovative strategies that the Strike Force can help us create.”
Members will be appointed in June. Bowser will select from stakeholders in the housing, finance, legal, and real estate industries, along with community representatives. Strike Force members are expected to deliver a report 120 days later on the most effective uses of the funds.
According to Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio, the racial disparity in homeownership has additional consequences. “The wealth gap in the District of Columbia is exacerbated by the homeownership gap, which exists in no small part because of discriminatory policies supported by the federal government such as redlining.”
The Mayor’s Office said 34% of Black residents in D.C. are homeowners, compared to nearly 49% of white residents. At the same time, rising housing costs threaten to further widen the gap.
From 2010 to 2014, first-time homebuyers with the average white household income could afford 67% of the houses sold in the district, while Black homebuyers could afford only 9%, according to data from the Mayor’s Office.
The homeownership gap has trended in the wrong direction. Between 2016 and 2020, first-time homebuyers with the average white household income could afford 71% of the homes in D.C. compared to 8% of Black first-time homebuyers.
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