The City of Madison is pleased to support the Urban League’s proposed new Homeownership and Wealth Building Program and resume our partnership from a previous effort that helped make homeownership a reality for more than 50 households of color.

Whenever we talk of homeownership, we must never forget that the policy of redlining, which dates back to the Great Depression of the 1930s, not only prevented Black Americans from achieving the same upward economic mobility that was afforded to whites who rapidly expanded their homeownership opportunities, but did so in a way that made its cause difficult to perceive. Politicians would spend the next century blaming the victims of this policy rather than correcting the structural racism at its root. And the 2008 national foreclosure crisis compounded the crisis, costing Black Americans 50% of their wealth.

This history has impacts yet today in our community. Homeownership rates among black households in Dane County are just 12% - one-fifth of the rate among white households. Between 2006 and 2016, households of color pursuing private mortgage financing were denied three times more often than white households.

But the Urban League and the City understand that home ownership is a key to:

  • generating wealth in communities and families

  • passing wealth from one generation to the next

  • gaining greater control over housing expenses, and access to other sources of credit and tax benefits

  • securing household stability

The Urban League’s new Homeownership and Wealth Building Program picks up where its previous Single-Family Rent-to-Own program left off.

That program, aided by more than $2M of City support, was successful in helping over 50 black households acquire homeownership and generate more than $2.5M of ownership equity. The program earned the Urban League, the City of Madison and other partners national recognition when it received a Mutual of America Community Partnership award in 2017.

The new Homeownership and Wealth Building Program, in combination with federal tax credits, will enable the Urban League to acquire and renovate 15-20 single-family homes located within lower-income census tracts in Madison, and sell them to low- and moderate-income buyers.

"This project will have an impact far beyond the 15 to 17 homes that will be re-developed," said Urban League of Greater Madison President & CEO, Ruben L. Anthony, "ULGM will be filling a void for a culturally competent homeownership counseling and training program in the region where currently only one certified HUD-homeownership agency exists. We'll also be adding to our housing development infrastructure in effort to address the crisis of affordable homeownership and rental properties in our community."

As for next steps, Anthony noted that "ULGM is calling on others in the community to help make this project a success. We need identify more homes to purchase before the end of the month - especially in South Madison. We're seeking discounted and in-kind supplies and materials to help make the homes as affordable as possible. And, of course, we're looking for families motivated to become home owners. Contact us if you can help!"

I applaud Dr. Anthony and the Urban League and all the wonderful community partners involved in this effort for their continuing efforts to promote homeownership among Black households. Our offer of support for this new initiative will add to the $1.25 million the City already spends each year, under our existing Home Buy – the American Dream Program, to expand homeownership opportunities among underrepresented communities. I anticipate building further on these wealth building initiatives within the 2021 Capital Budget.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Mayor's Office and a link back to the original post.