There is a homeownership crisis in the Black community.

Homeownership is the number one wealth indicator and accounts for 92% of Black wealth.  However, the recession wiped out 48% of that homeownership wealth.  In addition, African Americans are continuing to fall even further behind in homeownership compared to other segments.  If nothing is done about this, studies show that median Black household wealth is on a path to hit zero by 2053 . To build wealth and economic success in Black communities, homeownership must be increased.

Yet, with black buying power estimated by Nielsen to be $1.3 trillion a year, the black community should not be underestimated. Black consumers have the resources to support local businesses, revitalize communities and boost the economy. Now is the time to elevate the financial capacity of African Americans through the primary means for building wealth in this country – sustainable homeownership.

HomeFree-USA, a nonprofit homeownership development organization has developed a tangible solution to increase African American homeownership, Step Into Your Power: Prepare for success through homeownership©. Starting with Baltimore, MD, a city at the forefront of wealth inequality, HomeFree-USA will elevate homeownership and the economic stature of Black families across America with this scalable, model initiative.

With Black Americans making up 63.3 percent of Baltimore’s population, the decline in Black homeownership poses a particular threat to that city. We see the great potential of Baltimore city and want to help it thrive. Thousands of dollars in free down payment assistance programs are available to help restore black wealth. Step Into Your Power will help people tap into this incredible opportunity so they can get on the road to success through homeownership.

In collaboration with Wells Fargo Home Lending, HomeFree-USA is teaming up with Stedman Graham, author, educator and leadership development expert, to inspire members of Baltimore’s local community to leverage financial education and become homeowners.  “This is the perfect time to marry Identity Leadership with a can-do spirit of homeownership, wealth building and financial success,” says Graham. “Having a strong sense of and belief in self provides the foundation for maximizing our potential.  HomeFree-USA will provide a plan that will lead to a better life with more money and a home. This is the American Dream.  We’ll begin in Baltimore where the need is great and the climate is perfect for the good of the people. ”

“Wells Fargo is proud to join this important effort with HomeFree-USA to help African Americans in Baltimore prepare for and begin the journey to homeownership,“ said Cerita Battles, SVP head of retail diverse segments, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.  “When homebuyers are educated and prepared for the process, it’s a great start to not only obtaining homeownership, but sustaining it over time.  Step into your Power aligns perfectly with the goals of Wells Fargo’s African American homeownership commitment. It pledges to help at least 250,000 African Americans achieve homeownership in 10 years, with goals that include supporting initiatives that focus on homebuyer education and counseling. We applaud HomeFree-USA for its leadership in Baltimore to increase African American homeownership.”

To build wealth and economic success in Black communities, homeownership must be increased. Over the next 18 months, HomeFree-USA will guide, educate, and coach first-time Baltimore City homebuyers to mortgage-readiness, default resistance and homeownership.  Upon success in Baltimore, the initiative will be launched in other cities with a significant number of Black residents. The vision of Step Into Your Power is to get 10,000 African American families mortgage-ready around the country by the end of 2020.