We are joining with several other East Bay UCCs to take a small but mighty step toward addressing historic systemic racial injustice this Lent, by creating a fund to support Black Homeownership!
The Black Homeownership Reparations Fund (BHRF) is a project launched by Arlington Community Church (UCC), to help repair a small portion of the financial damage of racism and white supremacist policies—in particular, the longstanding barriers to Black homeownership that have existed in our East Bay communities.
For most Americans, a home is their major source of wealth. A home appreciates over time and can be passed down to the next generation. But because of segregation, redlining, adverse (or nonexistent) mortgage terms, and loan application rejection, the Black community has been shut out from this major wealth-building tool.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the rate of Black homeownership is 44 percent, the lowest of all groups. In contrast, 74 percent of white families in the U.S. own a home.
Addressing Black homeownership is a way to make long-lasting, systemic change in how Black communities can build wealth and pass it along to their heirs.
A major barrier to homeownership, especially in the high-priced Bay Area, is lack of a down payment. This is especially true for Black homebuyers, who may have good incomes but no access to the additional capital they need for a down payment. The BHRF would:
- Create a zero-percent-interest loan fund, to be paid back only when the home is refinanced or sold;
- Work through local organizations to identify potential Black homebuyers who are on the journey to home ownership but who lack a down payment.
Because the BHRF is a loan fund, money from home refinance or sale flows back into the fund, ready to assist other homebuyers. In addition, there may be other avenues by which we can support Black homeownership through our fund.
The BHRF would be housed at the Richmond Community Foundation through a donor-advised fund. This foundation has an outstanding track record for funding housing projects in the East Bay. For example, the foundation recently turned 20 abandoned, single-family homes into affordable housing, with more projects planned (Richmond has several hundred such homes).
Another organization the BHRF could support is the distinguished Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services. In 2020 alone, this group helped over 100 first- time homebuyers in Richmond.
You can give each week during worship, or make a lump sum gift in any amount via Realm or check right now. And excellent news: the Berkeley Pilgrimage Foundation, a charitable giving foundation launched by our church, has promised to match up to $10,000 of what we raise throughout the season of Lent!