(Washington, DC) Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) highlighted the forthcoming creation of the Black Homeownership Strike Force to identify actionable recommendations to increase and support homeownership for longtime, Black residents of the District of Columbia. The Strike Force – which will be convened in June and be charged with delivery of a report after 120 days – will develop recommendations, including how to most effectively deploy a new $10 million Black Homeownership Fund proposed in Mayor Bowser’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget.
“This effort is one more way we can put homeownership within reach for Black Washingtonians while helping longtime residents keep and maintain their homes,” said Mayor Bowser. “We have developed many programs to give residents a fair shot, but addressing long-term racial disparities in homeownership and household wealth for Black Washingtonians requires new, innovative strategies that the Strike Force can help us create.”
Strike Force will be charged with developing recommendations that help to increase access to homeownership for longtime, Black residents of DC, as well as supporting wealth-building opportunities through homeownership including programs to enable homeowners to maintain their homes and achieve affordability.
June, Strike Force members will be appointed by the Mayor and include stakeholders in the housing, finance, legal, and real estate industries along with community representatives who can lend their perspective and experience to the challenges and opportunities for homeownership in the District.
To ensure a shared understanding of issues, the Strike Force will be supported by a facilitator and researchers who can conduct evidence-based briefings and analyze data to inform recommendations. They will support members starting in June 2022 over 120 days to develop recommendations and help deliver a final report due in the fall of 2022.
“The wealth gap in the District of Columbia is exacerbated by the homeownership gap, which exists in no small part because of discriminatory policies supported by the federal government such as redlining,” said Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio. “Mayor Bowser will task the Strike Force with recommending policies and programs to overcome historic injustices that we as a city and as a nation have failed to address and led to the racial wealth gap. One way to overcome intentional policies like redlining is to find new ways to greenlight homeownership.”
Mayor Bowser has tasked DMPED with coordinating the work of the Strike Force and preparing members with relevant data and research. DMPED has consulted experts at Howard University and the Urban Institute to assist. In the District, homeownership is becoming increasingly expensive, and racial disparities in homeownership rates are striking. Of Black residents in the District, 34 percent own their homes versus nearly 49 percent of white residents. An Urban Institute analysis updated this month for DMPED shows that homeownership is increasingly out of reach for Black first-time homebuyers. A first-time homebuyer with the average white household income could afford 71 percent of the homes sold in DC between 2016 and 2020, including all homes sold in Wards 7 and 8. In comparison, a first-time homebuyer from the average Black household income could afford only 8.4 percent of the homes sold. This disparity worsened from several years prior (2010-2014), when a first-time homebuyer with the average white household income could afford 67 percent of homes sold, including all homes sold in Wards 7 and 8, and the average Black buyer could afford 9.3 percent.
Numerous resources are available in the District of Columbia to support homeownership, particularly for low- and moderate- income residents. frontdoor.dc.gov, a DC government site launched in 2021, provides a searchable inventory of these programs. In addition, Mayor Bowser’s FY23 Budget makes further investments in many of these programs including:
- Funding the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) and the Employer-Assisted Homeownership Program (EAHP) at $21 million and $6 million respectively, an increase of $3.1 million across the two programs from FY 2022 levels;
- Increasing the maximum assistance from HPAP for the lowest income prospective homeowners from $80,000 to $202,000;
- Providing Heirs Property Legal Services to assist 1,000 multi-generational families in maintaining their family property after the original homeowner passes;
- Reducing the annual increase cap to property taxes for seniors from 5 percent to 2 percent;
- Increasing funding for the Single Family Residential Rehab program, which helps low-income homeowners repair their homes;
- Investing more than $12 million in home weatherization, lead and mold remediation, and FloodSmart homes programs to help residents make their homes safer, healthier, greener and more affordable.
“We know the many benefits homeownership brings to the homeowner and the communities they live in,” said DHCD Interim Director Drew Hubbard. “With Mayor Bowser’s historic investments in tried-and-true programs, along with new and innovative approaches, we’ll be able to bring those benefits to even more individuals and neighborhoods.”