By James Wright Jr. | Washington Informer | Word In Black
(WIB) – The Bowser Administration released a report authored by the Black Homeownership Strike Force on Oct. 3 that details the problems Black Washingtonians have buying a home and the recommendations that should be implemented to rectify the problem.
The report offered 10 recommendations to better assist Black residents to achieve homeownership in the District. The goal of the Strike Force and Bowser administration: to have 20,000 new Black homeowners in the District by 2030.
The 22-member committee included: D.C. Councilmember Anita Bonds (D-At Large); Babatunde Oloyede, president and CEO of Marshall Heights Community Development Organization; Drew Hubbard, interim director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development; Brenda Donald, executive director of the District of Columbia Housing Authority; and co-chairs, the Rev. Graylan Hagler and Anita Cozart, interim director of the D.C. Office of Planning.
“This goal is a first step in undoing the lasting legacy of discriminatory housing laws that locked many Black families out of homeownership throughout the twentieth century,” Bowser said. “This is about helping 20,000 Washingtonians buy homes but it is also about helping 20,000 Washingtonians build generational wealth, stay in D.C. for generations to come and benefit from the prosperity of Washington, D.C.”
The recommendations include: assisting in the intergenerational transmission of homeownership for Black homeowners by providing estate planning and legal services; encouraging the D.C. Council to pass bills protecting homeowners from unwanted solicitation regarding the sale or potential purchase of their homes, including requirements for homeowners to opt-in for such solicitation; creating a program to assist Black homeowners who are dealing with foreclosure due to their inability to pay their mortgage and related housing fees; providing resources from District agencies and non-profits for Black families to make home repairs; prodding the District government to incentivize new construction of housing units and convert older dwellings into affordable housing; increasing the supply of homes for ownership that are affordable to Black homebuyers who fall within the 80% of the D.C. area median family income; investigating the ways the D.C. government should accelerate zoning and permitting for homeownership projects; leveraging the $10 million Black Homeownership Fund District to create a public-private fund to create more housing for low- and middle-income Black residents; broadening public awareness of programs that support homeownership; and strengthening the ability of Blacks to purchase homes in the present real estate market by utilizing District government-based programs such as the Home Purchase Assistance Program.
Brittany Freeman, a District resident who attended Eastern Senior High School in Northeast and at one time stayed at the public juvenile facility DC Village, said the process can be difficult at times but worth the effort.
“At one point in my life, I was on every government assistance possible,” Freeman said. “Then, I was hired as a government employee and I became self-sufficient. Homeownership is possible.”