A new program offered by a division of Ann Arbor-based University Bank
has provided $15,000 grants to approximately 166 first-time home buyers of color.
University Lending Group
in partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis
began offering the Home Boost Minority Down Payment Assistance Grant (HomeBoost) program to help address the minority homeownership gap, which refers to the disparity in homeownership between white people and people of color. According to the National Association of Realtors
, while 72.7% of white Americans currently own homes, only 44% of Black Americans do. That gap is larger than it’s been in 10 years.
HomeBoost provided grants for first-time buyers with a household income at or below 120% of the local area median income who identify as Black or African American, Asian, Hispanic, Indian American or Alaska Native, and/or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
The funds, which have now been depleted, were to be used towards a down payment, and do not need to be repaid, even if the house is later sold.
“HomeBoost was unique in this respect,” says University Lending Group Senior Vice President and Regional Manager Eric Bradley.
“We know how the price of housing is here [in Washtenaw County] — it's tough to make those numbers work, even when first-time home buyers are fairly modest in what they're trying to buy. So a program like this really makes a difference,” Bradley says.
In fact, the HomeBoost program proved so popular that a few of Bradley’s clients had already entered into sales contracts with the expectation that they’d be able to rely on grant funding, only to learn that the funds had been exhausted.
Still, Bradley is hopeful that the HomeBoost program will eventually be renewed, because “there certainly is a need."
"We're waiting to see if they are going to reload this program with additional funds,” he says.
Natalia Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and others.
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