Housing Development Fund Awarded $600,000 Hartford Foundation Grant for Downpayment Assistance to BIPOC First-Time Homebuyers
Grant highlights the ongoing efforts to dismantle historic barriers to homeownership for Greater Hartford residents of color.
Lisa is a 46-year-old, Black, single mother who works as a cardiac technician had been searching for a home for her family of three in the Hartford area. Despite taking on a second job, she was challenged to save enough money to cover a down payment and closing costs. When Lisa reached out to the banks and loan programs for assistance, no one could offer her the help she needed. She worried she would never be able to save enough money to buy a home of her own.
Fortunately, a loan officer at a local bank told Lisa about the Housing Development Fund’s (HDF) Homeownership Equity Fund CT program.
She immediately contacted HDF, and their staff started the application process. Lisa worked one on one with an adviser to develop an action plan to increase savings, reduce debt, and identify programs that Lisa was eligible for including low interest downpayment assistance for first-time homebuyers in Connecticut. In just a few months, Lisa was able to purchase a home of her own.
“I am so grateful that the Housing Development Fund offers this type of support for first-time home buyers like me,” Lisa said. “With the purchase of my house, I can provide my family with long-term financial security. It also allows my daughter, my mother and me to remain in one place for years so we can build long-lasting relationships with our neighbors. Home ownership has changed my life by making me and my family feel happier and more accomplished. It is that feeling you get when you finally have a place to call your own.”
To assist more Greater Hartford families seeking to become first-time homebuyers, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has awarded the Housing Development Fund a $600,000 grant to support the Homeownership Equity Fund. This grant will allow HDF to provide between 25 and 35 BIPOC households in towns served by the Foundation with zero-percent loans for down payment and closing costs. This investment contributes to the Foundation’s goal of increasing the number of Hartford residents living in higher opportunity neighborhoods as part of its efforts to dismantle structural racism and advance equitable mobility in Greater Hartford’s Black and Latine communities.
The grant includes $100,000 in collaboration with Foundation donors through their donor advised funds which includes investments from the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund – Beatrice Koopman, Dorothy Koopman and Rena Koopman, Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund – Elizabeth Schiro, and the Jackson-Batchelder Family Fund.
Since HDF launched the Homeownership Equity Fund in July 2022, 66 households have received support, including 12 in Greater Hartford. As a HUD-certified homeownership counseling agency, HDF provides program participants with free one-to-one, pre-purchase homeownership counseling and a six-hour education course. (While the Hartford Foundation’s grant will be used solely for downpayment and closing cost assistance loans, HDF’s counseling and education services will be made available through other resources.) To participate, households must earn 80 percent or less of the Area Median Income.
“We are so grateful for this award from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and cannot wait to put these funds to work for new homebuyers in the Hartford area,” said Housing Development Fund President/CEO Kiley Gosselin. “The Foundation’s alignment with HDF’s mission to support wealth building among BIPOC homebuyers makes this an exciting partnership. These funds will be recycled indefinitely to help countless families in the Hartford area achieve the stability and wealth-building opportunity that homeownership provides.”
According to the Greater Hartford Community Wellbeing Index 2023, homeownership rates among white households are 77 percent, almost double that of Black households (42 percent) and more than double that of Latino households (32 percent).
Historic discrimination such as redlining legally blocked groups of people from homeownership opportunities based on race, ethnicity, and religion. Ongoing implicit bias in institutional lending practices also creates additional barriers. Mortgage applications from Black and Latine residents are rejected at higher rates than from white and Asian residents. Ten percent of mortgage applications by Black residents were rejected in 2021, while four percent of white residents faced rejection. These differences are not accounted for by household income; white applicants making more than $120,000 annually having a rejection rate of 2 percent, while Black and Latine applicants making more than $120,000 had rejection rates of 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
The impact of HDF’s work to support affordable and sustainable homeownership has demonstrated financial benefits for HDF’s borrowers. Past borrowers report an average monthly mortgage payment of $1,358, while the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in much of Connecticut can exceed $2,000. Moreover, HDF’s interest-free loan allows the mortgage payment to remain the same for 20 years while rents have been increasing by an average of 3.5 percent annually since 2015. By making timely mortgage payments, HDF borrowers build an average of $23,773 worth of home equity in the first five years after loan closing.
“We know that home ownership and high-quality affordable rental housing are pathways to wealth and well-being.” said Hartford Foundation Vice President of Community Impact Elysa Gordon. “Yet, historic, and ongoing racist policies and bias diminish these options for Black and Latine people. This Fund contributes to dismantling the barriers to Black and Latine homeownership and building a new legacy of inclusive opportunity in Greater Hartford.”
About the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding towns. Through partnerships, the Foundation seeks to strengthen communities in Greater Hartford by putting philanthropy in action to dismantle structural racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $948 million since its founding in 1925. For more information, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.