Addressing the racial gap in home ownership
STATE PROGRAMS DESIGNED to boost home ownership by people of color are working, but more funding, outreach, and affordable homes are needed to significantly reduce the historical racial gap in home ownership, according to a new report put out by the research arm of the Boston Foundation.
The Boston Indicators report says decades of explicit exclusion, zoning laws, predatory lending practices, and wealth extraction have left large racial disparities in homeownership. In Greater Boston, only 40 percent of Black and 37 percent of Latino families own homes compared to 73 percent of White households.
In an already tight housing market, Black and Latino homebuyers face a set of unique challenges as they gather down payments and secure mortgage loans — and even after they have already bought a house. The report said several programs have proven effective in helping income-eligible Black and Latino households achieve homeownership, including the Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s ONE Mortgage, which offers a minimum 3 percent down payment; MassHousing’s Workforce Advantage program, which pays for mortgage insurance; the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance’s STASH program, which helps buyers save money for a home purchase; and the state’s MassDREAMS down payment and closing cost assistance program.
“For these programs and others to reach their full potential, we need to seize the opportunity to both expand their availability and simplify what can be an exceptionally challenging process for first-time homebuyers to find programs that meet their needs,” said Luc Schuster, executive director of Boston Indicators.
At a panel discussion on the report on Wednesday, Clark Ziegler, the executive director of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, said most of the progress in promoting home ownership by people of color has come about by better targeting messages about support programs to the right audiences. “It’s because of the intentionality about how we are reaching out and what channels we are using to reach out,” he said. “And there’s even more we could do in that space.”
While the Boston Indicators report said funding and outreach will be key in expanding home ownership by people of color, the biggest challenge is the housing shortage in the Greater Boston area. Symone Crawford, the executive director of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, said programs like STASH would be far more effective if there were more homes for Black and Latino residents to buy. “This is a beautiful program at a time when there’s still nothing to buy,” she said.
The report recommends subsidizing developers to work on affordable housing projects and revamping zoning rules to make new construction easier.
The moderator of Wednesday’s discussion, Soni Gupta, asked for the panelists’ thoughts on race-conscious, race-targeting reparations within homeownership programs.
Crystal Kornegay, the executive director of MassHousing, made it clear that homeownership assistance programs should not be conflated with reparations. “I do not want to talk about home ownership programs as reparations,” she said. “That’s a personal thing for me because I don’t understand why we think that, in doing that, you’re going to repair 400 years of discrimination.”
New FTA warning: The Federal Transit Administration issued a new near-miss warning to the MBTA after four incidents over the last month where track workers came dangerously close to being hit by trains and a failure to promptly report some of the incidents to safety overseers. The incidents bring to nine the number of near-miss incidents this year.
– Patrick Lavin, the chief safety officer for the Department of Transportation, said at least one of the delays in reporting an incident was due to a “disconnect” in existing communication procedures. “We didn’t find out about it as management until four days later,” Lavin said. “I can’t report it if I’m not aware of it, so there’s some disconnect there.”
– The FTA stepped up its scrutiny of the MBTA and required additional safety improvements at the agency to protect workers. Read more.
Rent control: Democratic strategist Dan Cohen says progressives are split on whether to pursue a rent control ballot question, but he says the available data suggests such a question has broad support. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The Governor’s Council quickly signed off on four pardon recommendations from Gov. Maura Healey, but then the real action ensued, as ever-combustible council member Marilyn Devaney went on a rant against her colleagues that Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, who chairs the council, tried to rein in. (State House News Service)
Jose and Wendy Estrella spent $1 million converting a former Lawrence bank that had sat vacant for a decade into a function hall called The Vault, complete with two vaults repurposed as special rooms for brides and families during events. (Eagle-Tribune)
Worcester City Manager Eric Batista said he and the interim police chief are committed to transparency, after reporting about former Police Chief Steven Sargent’s conduct hastened Sargent’s retirement. (Worcester Telegram)
The Leominster mayor said the city is assessing the catastrophic damage caused by heavy flooding. A 1,000-foot temporary road will need to be built to replace a bridge destroyed by floods, and many structures remain unsafe for entry. (Worcester Telegram)
Rockport celebrates a 23-unit affordable housing project. (Gloucester Times)
In a major realignment in Boston’s vaunted health care sector, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will end its longstanding partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and build a new inpatient center for adult cancer care in affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. (Boston Globe)
With Mitt Romney signaling an end to his political career with the announcement that he won’t seek reelection next year to the Senate, Massachusetts political figures take stock of his impact and his term as the state’s governor. (Boston Globe)
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s recent statements, appearances, and actions indicate that she’s interested in the mayor’s job for at least another term. (Dorchester Reporter)
The United Auto Workers launched a strike against the three major Detroit automakers, the first time the union has ever called a strike against all three companies at the same time. (Washington Post)
A Great Barrington woman seeking a license to grow marijuana is required to hire a specialist to make sure the smell of the plants won’t bother neighbors. (Berkshire Eagle)
A bus driver shortage is frustrating parents and Framingham officials alike. (MetroWest Daily News)
Brockton’s trash hauler will begin rejecting recycling bins if they are not properly sorted. Mayor Robert Sullivan said that he is “very disappointed and dismayed” and that the decision will have a detrimental impact on the quality of life of the residents. (The Enterprise)
Cape towns are bracing for Hurricane Lee, with Provincetown building up sand berms at critical points and making sure drainage routes are clear. (Cape Cod Times)
Attorney General Andrea Campbell is launching a $750,000 grant program to fund legal services programs that are representing migrants who have arrived in the state. (Boston Globe)
A 14-year-old boy is charged with the murder of a 19-year-old woman in Lawrence and will be tried as an adult. (Eagle-Tribune)MEDIA
The Dorchester Reporter celebrated its 40th year in print with a special edition of the local paper. At a celebration of the news organization on Thursday, Mayor Michelle Wu and US Sen. Ed Markey offered remarks.