HUD, others unveil plan to increase Black homeownership

Groups including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) unveiled a plan Friday to increase Black homeownership significantly over the next 9 years. The agency says it will create 3 million more Black homeowners by 2030.

More than 100 groups threw their weight behind the effort, including industry trade associations such as the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. Housing advocate groups including the National Fair Housing Alliance, National Housing Conference, National Urban League and Urban Institute also signed on.

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, who until this year served as congresswoman for Ohio’s 11th congressional district, headlined the Cleveland State University event. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and MBA President Bob Broeksmit also attended.

At the event, Fudge read a poem by Langston Hughes, in which a mother tells her son, “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair,” and describes to him the bare and shabby condition of her home.

Fudge again emphasized her commitment to addressing racial inequality through her role as the head of HUD.

“Banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions denied credit to African-Americans through redlining,” said Fudge. “Those days are done in this HUD.”

The rate of Black homeownership was just 44.1% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That was actually an improvement from the third quarter of 2019, when the rate was just 40.6%. Black homeowners were more likely to be affected by the fallout from COVID-19 than white homeowners.

The HUD plan outlines a path toward eliminating the persistent barriers to homeownership for Black households. The groups proposed homeownership counseling, a “substantial, sustainable and targeted” downpayment assistance program and increasing housing production through land use reforms and economic intervention in distressed communities.

The downpayment assistance program “will serve as a critical first step in addressing these disparities, strengthening the wealth building capacity for millions while also growing the economy,” the groups wrote.

Two proposals exist to provide downpayment assistance to first-time homebuyers, but the Biden administration has not publicly backed either of them. They are both held up in Congressional negotiations for a broader infrastructure plan.

The plan also recommends changes to lending, including the development of special purpose credit programs, mortgage counseling for prospective homebuyers who are not yet mortgage-ready and creating specified pools for mortgage securitization.

Enforcement of fair housing and consumer-protection laws also figures in the plan to eliminate the Black homeownership gap. The plan also urges the government to “utilize, protect, and restore all legal doctrines and provisions of law that address systemic discriminatory policies.”

The plan also includes proposals to ensure Black homeowners are not vulnerable to foreclosure, through early intervention, ex-ante counseling and COVID-19 related homeownership assistance. As well as lower rates of homeownership in general, Black households experience shorter tenure as homeowners, a 2019 Urban Institute study found.

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