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Did you know that Atlanta is home to one of the nation’s largest African American communities, yet it ranks among some of the lowest black homeownership rates? Homeownership is key to creating intergenerational wealth for our black communities and changing the quality of life for future generations. Coinciding with Black History month, Dr. Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and daughter of A.D. King and his wife, Naomi Barber King, recently partnered with leading industry professionals to host a free homeownership workshop. Dr. King shared her experience buying a home in Atlanta and the barriers she had to overcome to become a homeowner.

This workshop, held at the Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral in Austell, Ga. is part of a series of events across the country sponsored by the UHOUSI Initiative, which attempts to close the racial wealth gap exacerbated through the lack of homeownership among our black communities. The UHOUSI Initiative is a nationwide effort designed to help first-time homebuyers learn about down payments, credit, and other barriers to homeownership. These workshops educate our community about the importance of homeownership and how to become homeowners in a responsible and sustainable way.

Pioneers in the mortgage industry led the workshop, including Ben Slayton, president of Legacy Home Loans, and first Black REALTOR® in the U.S. Mr. Slayton and his colleagues spoke passionately about the path to homeownership and also discussed one of the major road blocks preventing most of our black brothers and sisters from becoming homeowners – the down payment.

For many Americans, the down payment provided on their mortgage comes from a family member.  If you are privileged enough to have intergenerational wealth in your family, this is very advantageous.  However, the majority of our African American communities simply do not have the means to provide this generous gift to their children. Fortunately, there are government programs to help these communities achieve the dream of homeownership by extending down payment assistance (DPA) to qualifying, credit-worthy participants. CBC Mortgage Agency’s Chenoa Fund is a leading example of one of these programs.

CBC Mortgage is a federally chartered, public-purpose government agency that provides down payment assistance to credit worthy borrowers through their Chenoa Fund. Their mission is to provide affordable and sustainable homeownership, particularly for credit-qualified low to moderate income borrowers. For many of the prospective homebuyers in attendance, they realized that with the help of DPA programs like the Chenoa Fund, they too could turn the dream of homeownership into a reality.

In total, more than 250 people registered for the Saturday event, and nearly 60 individuals met with lenders from Legacy Home Loans. These families are now on the path to begin the process of owning a home.

Down payment assistance programs help to remove a major roadblock to homeownership for many Americans. These programs are firmly committed to bridging the racial wealth gap and building sustainable, intergenerational wealth through homeownership. We are changing the dynamic of our minority communities, one home at a time.

Tai Christensen is the director of government affairs at The Chenoa Fund.