event in Baltimore laid out a clear path for turning those numbers around across
Anyone questioning whether the Black community is primed to join the ranks of
homeowners need only look to an innovative event in Baltimore that took place
June 22. Nearly 700 people came away with the inspiration, education and
motivation to make the goal of homeownership a reality when HomeFree-USA
launched its Step Into Your Power: Prepare for Success Through Homeownership
initiative to an enthusiastic audience of African American homebuyers in
More than 500 homebuyers participated in a live event at the
Reginald Lewis Museum, while an additional 166 participated via live stream
and a second event that was held to accommodate the overflow crowd.
Homeownership is the number one wealth indicator and accounts for 92
percent of Black wealth. Yet, the Great Recession of 2008 wiped out 48 percent
of that homeownership wealth and African-Americans are continuing to fall
even further behind in homeownership compared to other segments. In fact,
the Black homeownership rate has fallen to the lowest level ever as of the first
quarter of 2019, according to Census data.
With Black Americans making up 63.3 percent of Baltimore’s population, the
decline in Black homeownership poses a particular threat to Charm City. Step Into Your Power is a groundbreaking way to turn those homeownership numbers
around and the kickoff event showed that many Baltimore residents agree.
HomeFree-USA Founder Marcia Griffin welcomed attendees and talked candidly about the crisis in the Black community around the wealth gap, sharing how homeownership can help Black Americans improve their financial standing. HomeFree-USA also shared that homebuyers may be able to take advantage of up to $42,000 in financial assistance.
Some attendees pointed to the gentrification that has taken place in
Washington, DC in the last few years and expressed their belief that Baltimore
may realize the same fate. As a result, several attendees saw buying in Baltimore
as an opportunity to both stop gentrification from pushing people from the city
they love and a chance to be a homeowner in the city where they were born
Other attendees expressed their desire to buy a home so they can pass it down
to their children and grandchildren.
Attendees also learned that organizations like HomeFree-USA can provide them
with the financial education and the know-how to make their dream of
homeownership a reality.
HomeFree-USA will host a series of Step Into Your Power events in Baltimore over
the next 5 months designed to guide, educate, and coach first-time Baltimore
City homebuyers to mortgage-readiness, default resistance and homeownership. Upon success in Baltimore, the initiative will be launched in other cities with a significant number of African American residents. One goal of the Step Into Your Power program is to get 10,000 African American families mortgage-ready around the country by the end of 2020.
Entrepreneur and educator Stedman Graham, author of the recently released
book, Identity Leadership, delivered the keynote address in Baltimore and spoke
about how one must learn to lead oneself before one can lead others. Graham
has been teaching self-actualization principles that help people discover who
they can be, and he brought those insights to energize Baltimore residents as
they prepare for success.
Strong partnerships underscore the strength of the initiative and were highlighted at the event.
“Step into Your Power: prepare for success through homeownership is a terrific example of working together to make a positive impact toward boosting Baltimore City homeownership,” said Lisa Thomlinson, program manager with Wells Fargo Housing Philanthropy.
homebuyers up to $15,000 for down payment and closing costs through a
program called NeighborhoodLIFT.
Power reaches as many potential homebuyers as possible.
African Americans and reducing the wealth gap in America. It also is designed
to help Black Americans break the cycle of renting and begin to make
homeownership an achievement that is passed down from generation to
Vice President of Marketing and Outreach for HomeFree-USA. “Thanks to Step
Into Your Power, Baltimore residents see the opportunity homeownership
presents and have a pathway to get there.”
By Hazel Trice Edney
Lois Johnson speaks on homeownership during the recent Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon at the National Press Club. PHOTO: Roy Lewis
People ask mortgage and homeownership questions after Johnson speaks at the recent Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon. PHOTO: Roy Lewis
ians who didn’t get turned down. Probably some of them got approved who should not have gotten approved, but it was because of the help that was given to them. They were told what to do. So, within the guidelines, we should provide our people the information that’s needed to acquire a loan and refer them to the right agencies that can help them.