A strong coalition is a powerful weapon in the fight against systemic inequality.
Homeownership Equality Research Organization (HERO), a nonprofit aimed at housing inequity, is working alongside real estate and mortgage professionals to ensure Black communities receive assistance to purchase a home.
“The housing gap has ebbed and flowed, but has remained wide. One out of every four Black families is renting compared to other ethnic groups in the U.S.,” HERO Founder Kevin Golden told AfroTech in an email interview.
“Now HUD funded a study on generational wealth in underserved and disadvantaged neighborhoods and found that 100% of the generational wealth in these communities comes from homeownership,” he continued. “So, a quarter of the Black households do not own the source of generational wealth — a cycle of poverty must exist. Homeownership Equality Research Organization wants to change this.”
According to its website, HERO offers various forms of support such as “downpayment assistance, debt relief, cash reserve improvement, and covering loan fees.” These resources aim to combat the systemic biases that historically block disadvantaged communities from becoming homeowners.
Per HERO, assistance programs typically only offer downpayment assistance when credit is often the biggest hurdle. Therefore, in addition, it offers credit counseling for free to disadvantaged households.
There are several ways these resources take root including ensuring interested homebuyers do not receive various credit inquiries (which can negatively affect their credit score). They also receive access to fintech applications, such as FinLocker, which provides borrowers with financial counselors as well as tools to oversee their monetary needs and financial literacy training.
“Having a financial literacy component to any assistance program is key to assuring that the assistance given to get the borrower into their home will not be moot, and the families will have the knowledge to remain in their homes,” Golden told AfroTech.
“HERO works to keep the overhead as low as possible in order to help as many households as possible,” Golden expressed. “Donations go to engaging counselors to improve the borrower’s credit score, identify debt to be paid off, and improve financial literacy.”