About three out of four Black households rent. The reverse is true for white households.
HF918 intends to close this racial gap in homeownership.
“Owning a home addresses the need of safe, secure and dignified housing,” said Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL-Mpls), the bill sponsor. “We know it leads to improvements in education, economic stability and health.”
Held over Wednesday by the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee for possible omnibus bill inclusion, the bill seeks to increase homeownership opportunities for underserved communities of color with a onetime $10 million appropriation in fiscal year 2024 to Build Wealth Minnesota.
Additionally, the bill would quadruple the organization’s fiscal year 2023 appropriation from $500,000 to $2 million for a family stabilization plan program. Costs could cover budget and debt counseling, outreach and financial literacy education.
We have been working to help families get comprehensive financial education and build wealth through homeownership, said executive director David McGee.
Rochelle Washington, a first-generation homeowner, joined the program to help with her credit score, then at 545.
“Now I am proud to say I that I have a credit score of 791,” she said.
A recipient of Section 8 housing vouchers for over 20 years, Washington said the program saved her from being homeless and she has happily resided in her own home for more than a year.
The nonprofit’s 9000 Equities fund would attempt to reduce the wealth equity and homeownership gap between Black and white households by 15% in the Twin Cities metropolitan area and finance 9,000 new homeowners over five to seven years.
A targeted loan pool would offer affordable first mortgages or equivalent financing opportunities.
Rep. Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) believes the targeted bill is not equal because it would single out the Black community while “leaving out everybody else in the state of Minnesota.”
If there’s a program that improves homeownership in the Black community, I don’t understand how that becomes a problem, said Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL-Mpls).
When there is a fire in one home, we don’t wait until everyone else catches fire to put it out, she said while noting the bill specifies “underserved communities of color,” not exclusively the Black community.