In October 2022, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and a collaborative of nearly 50 partners worked with Wells Fargo on the Wealth Opportunity Realized Through Homeownership (WORTH) initiative. The group had one, singular goal: to build or preserve 6,000 homes for families of color by 2026. Just one year after that announcement, initial results are in—and while they’re promising, they underscore just how much work we have to do to close the racial wealth divide between white and non-white families in our region.
According to the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, white families in metro Atlanta have 46 times as much wealth as Black families. Metro Atlanta’s wealth disparities are much worse than the national wealth divide, as the median wealth for white households nationally is only 12.5 times more than their Black counterparts. While our region needs multiple strategies to address this wealth divide, homeownership can be a powerful tool to increase household and generational wealth. Equity in their home accounts for more than half of Black families’ net wealth, and can protect families against future rent increases or other unforeseen costs.
Since the launch of the WORTH Initiative, our nonprofit partners have developed and sold 51 affordable single-family homes to Black families and other families of color and have another 452 homes under development. These home sales, which took place across the region from Southwest Atlanta to Stone Mountain, have resulted in an average of $15,037 in wealth gained per family in just one year. Preserving homes for Black homeownership in the region remains a critical step to ensuring families are able to access the incredible gains in home equity seen by homeowners in recent years. According to a study conducted by our partner, the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, families who have been in their home for five or more years have gained upwards of $135,000 in equity.
These recent investments in homeownership production are only one step towards solving our region’s wealth disparities. Our nonprofit development and home building partners are essential to achieving our shared goal. However, we know the majority of homes in our region are built by the private sector and we are pleased to be exploring collaboration with private homebuilders through the WORTH Initiative. Our initiative is rooted in the belief that expanded access to homeownership for Black families and other families of color is critical in order to address the racial wealth divide, but we need nonprofits, philanthropic leaders, policymakers, private developers, and other stakeholders to come together to fill this gap and ensure homeownership is attainable. As Mayor Dickens reminds us, “Atlanta is a group project.” We invite you to be part of this project to create or preserve 6,000 homes for families of color in our region. Visit the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta website to learn more about the WORTH initiative or apply for funding as a developer. And visit the HUB – the Urban League of Greater Atlanta’s comprehensive resource center for prospective homebuyers – to connect directly with builders, developers, realtors and more, when it launches later this month.