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DC sets new goal of increasing Black homeownership by 2030, closing racial wealth gaps

Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Black Homeownership Strike Force members presented their recommendations to increase the number of Black homeowners in D.C. Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Bowser's Office)
Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Black Homeownership Strike Force members presented their recommendations to increase the number of Black homeowners in D.C. Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Bowser's Office)
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Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) and the Black Homeownership Strike Force (BHSF) on Monday announced a new goal to help at least 20,000 more Black D.C. residents become homeowners by 2030.

Bowser created the strike force in June, with the charge of providing recommendations for uses of a $10 million Black Homeownership Fund, included in Bowser’s Fair Shot budget.

According to Bowser's office, currently, 34% of Black residents own their homes versus nearly 49% of white residents.

“This goal is a first step in undoing the lasting legacy of discriminatory housing laws that locked many Black families out of homeownership throughout the twentieth century,” said Bowser. “This is about helping 20,000 Washingtonians buy homes, but it is also about helping 20,000 Washingtonians build generational wealth, stay in D.C. for generations to come, and benefit from the prosperity of Washington, D.C.”

The Strike Force published a report of 10 recommendations to support the new goal:

Recommendation 1 – To assist in the inter-generational transmission of homeownership for Black homeowners, the Black Homeownership Strike Force (BHSF) recommends that the District provide estate planning resources and legal services to assist with the transfer of ownership to homeowners and heirs. Additional financial incentives should be considered to support the transfers such as tax savings, reduced transfer fees, or a bridge loan to Black homeowners to support interfamily (or to owner-occupant homebuyers) transfers/sales of property.

Recommendation 2 – To protect homeowners from harassment, the District should pass legislation to protect homeowners from unwanted solicitation regarding the sale or potential purchase of their homes, including requirements for homeowners to opt-in for such solicitation. The District should clarify that investor and wholesale purchasers are subject to the District’s consumer protection laws, require registration of investors and wholesale purchasers to do business in the District, and impose penalties for non-compliance.

Recommendation 3 – To support Black homeowners who are severely burdened by housing costs to remain in their homes, the BHSF recommends the District should create a program to aid Black homeowners who have experienced and are at risk of foreclosure due to their inability to pay their mortgage and related housing fees. This program should build on the same requirements and guidelines currently established by the Department of Housing and Community Development for the Homeowner Assistance Fund and add technical assistance and training as well as financial incentives for good management for condominium associations and homeowners associations with low-income residents.

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Recommendation 4 – To provide resources to Black families struggling to make home repairs, the BHSF recommends the District should convene all relevant DC Government agencies including the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Energy and Environment, and the Department of Aging and Community Living as well as nonprofits that provide home improvement/accessibility work to coordinate program offerings and ensure major repairs are completed for all homeowners including co-ops and condos, while also providing financial support and technical assistance to Black homeowners in rehabilitating their homes.

Recommendation 5 – To discourage conversion of older housing stock into housing that is unaffordable for Black homebuyers and to ensure quality housing rehabilitation, the District should incentivize new construction and renovation of single family residential by or for sale to owner occupants, create legislation that reduces impact of housing speculators in the District, and establish a requirement that investors disclose to homebuyers the scope of work, the permits used, and the cost of the renovations, with penalties imposed for sellers who fail to disclose as part of the sale.

Recommendations 6 – To increase the supply of homes for ownership that are affordable to Black homebuyers, as the District redevelops District-owned/acquired properties, the District should provide homeownership units to Black owner occupant homebuyers with a mixed income requirement, with an average income restriction of 80% MFI. Priority may be given to projects that include units at or below 60% MFI.

Recommendation 7 – To support quicker delivery of affordable homeownership units, the District should identify ways to accelerate zoning and permitting for homeownership projects, especially for projects with units affordable at 80% MFI and below, without compromising the quality of the work.

Recommendation 8 – To increase the supply of homes for ownership that are affordable to Black homebuyers, the District should leverage the $10 million Black Homeownership Fund to create a public-private fund (i.e., Homeownership Production Trust Fund) where a third of the units are affordable, a third of the units are for middle income earners, and a third of the units are market rate and sold to Black owner-occupant homebuyers. In addition, the fund would seek to achieve the following:

  • Fund homeownership projects that meet a mixed income requirement with an average income restriction of 80% MFI. Priority may be given to projects that include units at or below 60% MFI.
  • Partner with mission-driven investors including Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), or for-profit and nonprofit homebuilders, to acquire homes at their fair market value and rehabilitate or create new homeownership units.
  • Invest in homeownership projects with a return of the initial investment at lower rates in exchange for affordability at targeted income levels for Black owner-occupants.

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Recommendation 9 – To broaden awareness of programs that support homeownership, the District should create an online comprehensive District homeownership platform for District residents to achieve the following:

  • Highlight financial and housing counseling prior to starting homeownership journey to help potential homeowners prepare financially (i.e. credit repair, addressing student loans, increasing savings, etc.);
  • Provide rehabilitation counseling for owner-occupant homebuyers to rehabilitate formerly vacant properties, or homes in need of repair, into a stable home by preparing a scope of work, helping families determine which projects they can complete themselves, and assisting families in picking a certified contractor, and in supervising their work with contractors.
  • Leverage Front Door programs especially post purchase to help homeowners maintain and stay in their homes; and
  • List private and public down payment assistance programs and grants.
  • Ensure education and outreach and community engagement is developed to socialize the platform and user interface. Afterwards, the District should work with credible community messengers to promote the platform to Black households.

Recommendation 10 – To increase the ability of Black homebuyers using District programs to compete for homes in the current real estate market, the District should increase the effectiveness of all homeownership programs (i.e. Home Purchase Assistance Program, Employer Assisted Housing Program, DC Open Doors, etc.) to effectively participate with the market through the following strategies:

  • Establish a certified lender (and realtor) pool for HPAP with a preference towards loans that have zero down and zero closing costs;
  • Increase HPAP funding to help support the goal of Black homeownership in the District;
  • Increase the amount of down payment assistance available to homeowners and/or where possible to buydown the interest rate;
  • Automate the HPAP application process;
  • Provide residents with a pre-certification ensuring their ability to proceed with bidding on homes;
  • Leverage other private and public down payment assistance and grants, including Special Purpose Credit Programs;
  • Streamline underwriting guidelines with federal financing;
  • Allow rental payments to be considered for establishing credit;
  • Increase income limit to 120 percent MFI;
  • Allow for the purchase of 1-4 units for the purpose of helping owners afford the home and generate wealth;
  • Encourage incentives for HPAP recipients interested in selling to sell to an HPAP applicant (i.e. provide a first-look, reduce fees, etc.);
  • Enhance the customer experience; and
  • Develop a comprehensive homeownership training program for buyers, sellers, appraisers, contractors, lenders, realtors, title and settlement companies.
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Bowser says the strike force includes a group of experts and residents who have successfully navigated the home buying process. The mayor's office said their goal is to increase the number of Black homeowners in D.C. by 2030. Click here for the full report on the recommendations.

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