Where people live matters and determines their access to critical life necessities, according to research presented by Laurie Benner, associate vice president of programs at the National Fair Housing Alliance, during a recent PAR meeting.
The location of people’s residence impacts children’s education and families’ wealth, as well as access to transportation, healthy foods, healthcare, credit and high-speed internet.
The NFHA’s program Keys Unlock Dreams is an initiative dedicated to helping consumers overcome barriers to homeownership by providing them with the resources and advice they need to build thriving, inclusive communities and make homeownership a reality for millions of people. The program is targeting 10 cities, including Philadelphia.
The Keys Unlock Dreams goals are:
- Remove structural barriers that perpetuate racial inequity.
- Expand affordable and fair housing options.
- Prevent an unbalanced recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Empower consumers and stakeholders with critical information and resources.
- Help close the racial wealth and homeownership gaps.
Statistics show that the Black homeownership rate is the same as when redlining was legal. “Our country is more segregated today than we were 100 years ago,” Benner noted. “Homeownership rates for people of color are far below that of whites. White homeownership rates in 2020 were 74%, Asian/Pacific Islanders were 56%, Latinos were 48%, Native Americans were 48% and Black Americans were 44%.”
Although Philadelphia has a relatively high Black homeownership rate, the city has significant disparities when it comes to access to financial and health services. In Philadelphia, majority-Latino areas have 2.3 times more alternative banking establishments (pawn shops, check cashing stores and payday lenders) compared to majority-white neighborhoods. Majority-Latino areas have 90% fewer fitness amenities and majority-Black neighborhoods have 75% fewer compared to majority-white neighborhoods. Keys Unlock Dreams aims to not only support aspiring homebuyers but also to provide resources to existing homeowners to create neighborhoods of opportunity.
In addition to launching the Keys Unlock Dreams program, NFHA recently settled a $53 million lawsuit against Fannie Mae for the handling of REO properties in Black and Latino communities post-foreclosure crisis. The program will give funding to organizations in target cities to assist with the redevelopment and revitalization of harmed communities.
“NFHA and our partner organizations will be looking at ways to provide down payment assistance to first-generation homebuyers, renovation and repair grants, and other innovative ways to help support equitable housing efforts,” Benner said.