Homewise Receives National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)’s Inclusive Communities Fund Grant
Homewise is committed to helping New Mexico families attain financial security; that’s why we have prioritized narrowing the racial wealth gap by increasing homeownership rates among households of color.
Homewise works to end housing discrimination and close the wealth gap by making homeownership accessible and affordable through development, homebuyer education and coaching, homebuyer financial assistance, and the highest-quality mortgage products. A recent grant of $185,000 from the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)’s Inclusive Communities Fund Grant Program is helping us narrow the racial wealth gap in Albuquerque by making grants of up to $10,000 in down-payment assistance to 18 African American and/or Hispanic households. Coupled with homebuyer education and other forms of homebuyer assistance, these grants will provide recipients with a much-needed ‘foot in the door’ to homeownership.
In Bernalillo County, 68.2% of non-Hispanic White households own the home in which they live, while homeownership rates among Hispanic and African American households average 62.5% and 30.1%, respectively. Homeownership isn’t for everyone, but our analysis indicates that well over half of the 5,348 African American households and 44,368 Hispanic households that currently rent in Albuquerque have the income they need to own a home. Many of these households could benefit from homeownership but lack the savings for a down payment. For these households, down payment grants alone or in combination with other forms of homeowner assistance can make homeownership a reality.
A family’s home is typically one of its most valuable assets, and homeownership is the primary means by which American households build wealth. In the U.S., the typical White family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family. Wealth disparity puts children of color at a disadvantage relative to their White peers, making it harder for them to attain financial security as adults. This is because families with wealth are better able to invest in their children’s upward mobility through education or by helping them buy their first home or start a business. Family assets also provide a financial safety net that enables members to bounce back more quickly from the loss of a job or other setback that could be catastrophic to a household with fewer resources.
White households in New Mexico and throughout the U.S. have higher rates of homeownership rates than Black or Hispanic households, and homeowners have more wealth than renters, regardless of race. In fact, White homeowners have 36 times the median wealth of White renters, while the median wealth of African American homeowners exceeds that of African American renters by almost 63-fold. The median net worth of an African American homeowner is almost 14 times that of a White renter. Closing the racial homeownership gap is therefore an important step towards closing the racial wealth gap.
Homewise is proud to partner with NFHA to increase access to affordable homeownership for households of color in Albuquerque. NFHA is a national civil rights organization dedicated to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equitable housing opportunities for all people. Funding for NFHA’s Inclusive Communities Grant Program is made available through settlements resulting from enforcement of the Federal Fair Housing Act, such as last year’s historic settlement with Fannie Mae. Settlement funds are intended to benefit neighborhoods or populations that were disproportionately impacted by the 2008 foreclosure crisis and have been destabilized by housing discrimination. Helping Black and Hispanic families realize their dreams of homeownership is one way to mitigate the lasting damage caused by discriminatory practices and systemic racism.
Homeownership IS Affordable Housing
Building wealth is only one of homeownership’s many advantages. A major benefit of owning a home that often comes as a surprise is lower monthly housing costs. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Albuquerque has increased 18 percent – from $1,100 to $1,295 – since January 2022. Some households that switch from renting to owning realize monthly cost savings with their first mortgage payment; for others, the cost advantages emerge over time as rents steadily rise while the monthly payments on their fixed rate mortgage remain relatively flat. Either way, homeowners are ultimately better off than renters with more disposable income to spend on other things that improve their quality of life.
The racial wealth gap of today arises from the unequal starting positions of children of color relative to White children and to the systemic and institutionalized discrimination that people of color continue to confront in American society. The wealth gap undermines children’s chances for financial success almost from the moment they are born. Homeownership is not the solution to wealth disparity, but as the primary means by which Americans build wealth, it plays a critical role in making our economy one of opportunity for all.