$7.5 million grant to help underserved achieve home ownership in Houston area

Thursday, September 8, 2022
$7.5M grant to help underserved reach home ownership in Houston
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More than seven million dollars is heading Houston's way in an effort to make homeownership more equitable.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Buying a home is becoming a problem for a lot of families in Houston and Harris County, but for minority families, the issue is especially troubling.

According to the 2022 State of Housing Report by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, homeownership rates have fallen for Black households in Harris County from 41% in 2010 to just 36% in 2020.

Homeownership rates for white households dropped but remain consistent at 68%, while rates for Hispanic households remained steady at around 51% in 2020.

On Tuesday, a new initiative was announced to expand homeownership opportunities for Black, Hispanic, and other underserved individuals and families.

This will be funded with a $7.5 million grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation.

"We know very deliberate interventions helped to create the barriers that exist, so we have to be as intentional to get us to a place of equity," Otis Rolley, head of social impact for Wells Fargo, said.

Houston is the first of eight markets across the U.S. to launch the Wealth Opportunities Restored Through Homeownership grant, or WORTH grant. It aims to help create 5,000 new homeowners of color in Harris County by the end of 2025.

"Sadly, home ownership opportunities have not been made equally, especially to people of color. So when you look around at the number of folks, the percentage of folks who are owning homes, for people of color, Hispanics, African Americans, and others, that percentage is steadily going down, and it needs to be reversed," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

The initiative hopes to lower construction costs, offer affordable mortgage products, and create education campaigns. The grants will be administered by LISC Houston, which has a long history of connecting families to housing opportunities.

According to Laura Jaramillo, the executive director of LISC, there is a website in the works that will serve as a one-stop shop for people wanting to know more about the resources available to help with the home buying process. The website should be up and running by early 2023.

SEE ALSO: 13 Investigates racial disparities among Harris County homeowners