Research Report Launching the WORTH Initiative to Create New Homeowners of Color
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Year One Evaluation Study Implementation Report
Corianne Payton Scally, Michael Neal, Lydia Lo, Violet Sulka/Hewes, Matthew Pruitt, Ilina Mitra, Jung Hyun Choi
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Homeownership is the primary traditional path to intergenerational wealth building in America. Although homeownership rates across the United States have risen over the past decade, homeownership rates for communities of color (especially Black communities) have remained persistently lower than white homeownership rates (47 percent versus 72 percent, respectively). This gap was created and exacerbated by historical systems of racial and ethnic discrimination that excluded households of color from purchasing homes and created enormous disparities in key factors that influence and facilitate homeownership, such as incomes, educational attainment, employment, savings, and credit access and quality.

To support local efforts to shrink the homeownership gap between households of color and white households, the Wells Fargo Foundation launched the Wealth Opportunities Realized through Homeownership (WORTH) initiative, funding eight collaboratives with $7.5 million each, or $60 million total, over three and a half years to serve Atlanta, Georgia; Houston, Texas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New York City, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; San Diego, California; and rural and tribal areas across the country.

This report documents the progress these collaboratives have made in their first year of implementation toward the goal of creating 5,000 new homeowners of color in each market. In their first year, collaboratives collectively reported

  • serving 10,040 individual program participants, regardless of race or ethnicity and
  • supporting 3,132 new homebuyers of color achieve or preserve homeownership, or roughly 31.2 percent of all individuals served and 8 percent of the 40,000 new homeowners of color the initiative aims to create.

Beyond these, though, collaboratives had notable achievements establishing program processes and infrastructure, including creating pass-through grantmaking channels for essential homeownership support services, service coordination websites, or legal agreements. Establishing regular and standard collaborative meetings and metric tracking and reporting infrastructure also represented a major accomplishment for all. Some organizations hired new staff members, while others set up new reporting channels and activities with existing staff members and resources. We witnessed marked improvements in the amount and quality of data reported over the year as collaboratives established their WORTH-funded programs and reporting infrastructure.

Key lessons learned during the first year of implementation include the importance of the following:

  • Aligning strategies to tackle barriers and change systems. Collaboratives focused most on where existing resources and partnerships align with short-term program goals, while targeting upstream changes around access to credit and housing supply was most challenging.
  • Building collaborative trust and infrastructure. Collaboratives needed to invest in building trust, developing communication rhythms, hiring staff, establish data-sharing and reporting practices, and identify efficiencies across organizations to create a comprehensive initiative that addressed the full complexity of local homeownership system problems in both the short and long term.
  • Achieving and documenting outcomes. Setting up initial programming takes significant investment of time and resources, and the results from collaboratives’ programmatic and data collection and reporting efforts will take time to appear, especially in a context of challenging economic and housing market conditions.
Research Areas Housing Housing finance Race and equity
Tags Racial homeownership gap Homeownership Community and economic development Black/African American communities Latinx communities Native populations Racial barriers to housing Rural people and places
Policy Centers Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center Housing Finance Policy Center
Research Methods Data collection Qualitative data analysis Quantitative data analysis
Cities San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Richmond, VA
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