Washington D.C. is one of many cities where homeownership has significantly declined for African Americans, but a new plan is underway there to bring it back to where it was. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a $10 million Black Homeownership Fund Thursday (March 31), as part of the district’s fiscal year 2023 budget, that seeks to tackle longstanding racial disparities.
“This effort is one more way we can put homeownership within reach for Black Washingtonians while helping longtime residents keep and maintain their homes,” Bowser stated.
“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.”
The plan involves creating a “Strike Force” tasked with developing recommendations to boost Black homeownership and designing policies and programs to support wealth-building opportunities through homeownership.
Bowser plans to appoint Strike Force members in June. She will select from a range of stakeholders in the housing, finance, legal and real estate industries, along with community representatives. Strike Force members are expected to deliver a report 120 days later on the most effective uses of the funds.
Bowser’s office said 34 percent of Black residents in D.C. are homeowners, compared to nearly 49 percent of white residents. At the same time, housing costs are skyrocketing in the district, threatening to widen the gap.
From 2010 to 2014, first-time homebuyers with the average white household income could afford 67 percent of the houses sold in the district, while Black homebuyers could afford only 9 percent, according to data from the Mayor’s Office.
The homeownership gap has trended in the wrong direction. Between 2016 and 2020, first-time homebuyers with the average white household income could afford 71 percent of the homes in D.C. compared to 8 percent of Black first-time homebuyers.
Homeownership disparity has other consequences.
“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,” Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio said.