By Sarah Kirsch, managing director Housing Funds, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Renters are more than twice as likely as homeowners to be overly burdened by the cost of housing in metro Atlanta, yet homeownership continues to be out of reach for many families. Recent studies have revealed that the rate of Black homeownership is at the lowest level nationwide since 1968, the last year segregated housing was legal. Homeownership is one of the largest creators of wealth in America, and Black Atlantans and other Atlantans of color who don’t have access to homeownership opportunities miss a critical opportunity to build lasting generational wealth, increase their assets and realize housing stability. The gap in homeownership between these households and white households actively perpetuates income inequality across the Atlanta region.
Black homebuyers are more likely than their white counterparts to be denied a mortgage, and a lack of diversity in the home appraisal industry is linked to appraisal bias in Black and Latine neighborhoods. Rising home costs, a lack of housing supply, complicated home buying processes and the ability to save for a down payment present further challenges for many non-white families in Atlanta seeking homeownership.
So that begs the question: How do Black homebuyers in Atlanta overcome these barriers and where can they go for support throughout the process? Although there are many resources for homebuyers throughout the region, assistance is often disconnected and hard to navigate. The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, is excited to announce a new, one-stop shop for first-time homebuyers – The Homeownership Urban Blueprint, or “HUB”. Unveiled at the Urban League’s homeownership Expo in June, the HUB will be available to prospective homebuyers in the next several months. Atlanta’s prospective homebuyers will be invited to log in to the HUB online, where they can be connected with a homebuyer counselor, access all of the homebuyer resources and assistance available in the region and receive support through the home buying process.
The HUB will help demystify the process of purchasing a home while centralizing resources in one place. A critical addition to Atlanta’s homeownership market, the HUB will bring together dozens of homebuilders to connect homebuyers with an available supply of homes on the market. It will also include a specific connection to more than 16 nonprofit developers and builders who specialize in building at affordable and attainable price points. The initiative is the first of its kind in metro Atlanta to bring together a large network of banks, lenders, builders, inspectors, down payment assistance providers, housing counselors, appraisers, and realtors/realtists – to simplify the home buying process and better connect homebuyers with everything they need to access homeownership. And while the focus is on the homebuyers, an added benefit of a centralized approach is that with improved data collection across the region, stakeholders will be able to better identify resource gaps, homebuyer needs and hurdles along the way.
The HUB is part of the Wealth Opportunities Realized Through Homeownership (WORTH) initiative from the Wells Fargo Foundation. The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta is lead partner on the initiative, and heads a collaborative comprised of nearly 50 nonprofits to preserve and create 6,000 homeowners of color in Atlanta by 2026. The HUB is a key step in expanding the network of stakeholders who are committed to identifying, addressing and breaking down barriers and racial inequities in the market. Follow the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta on social media for updates on the launch of the HUB and join a community dedicated to making homeownership possible for families of color in Atlanta!