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Denver homeownership social equity program to help those impacted by redlining

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Posted at 4:01 PM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 19:36:47-04

DENVER - On Monday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher announced the official launch of the city’s new metroDPA Social Equity Program that is designed to help people of color impacted by redlining purchase a home.

Redlining is the practice of refusing to give someone a home loan in certain areas of a city because of their race.

For example in Denver, redlining practices meant people of color could not live outside of the Whittier, Cole, North Park Hill, Five Points, Globeville Elyria-Swansea, and Auraria neighborhoods.

Hancock said this form of discrimination limited homeownership opportunities for Black and Latino residents, especially between the years 1938 and 2000.

“For far too long communities of color have been excluded from the American Dream,” Hancock said. “About 50% of us Denverites own our homes. There’s 54% homeownership among white households, and it’s much lower for BIPOC households, at just 41%.”

Hancock and Fisher said the program plans to increase Black, Indigenous, and people of color homeownership by offering $15,000 to $25,000 interest-free, three-year forgivable loans that program participants do not have to pay back.

“You must qualify for a 30-year fixed-rate home loan, earn less than $150,000 per year…have a credit score of 640,” Fisher said. “Programs like these are helping upend the generational impacts of discriminatory practices like redlining and involuntary displacement.”

Dontrael Starks is one of the first applicants to be approved to participate in the program.

“My grandfather Johnny Walker used to march with Martin Luther King. He was the reverend at Macedonia Baptist Church on Franklin Street. They dealt with a lot of racism,” Starks said.

Starks said, unfortunately when it comes to buying a home, he has also faced racism and discrimination.

“We’re still struggling with the same things that my grandparents struggled with. It’s either because ‘oh, your down payment money hasn’t been sitting in the bank long enough or you haven’t been at this job long enough’,” Starks said. “I’ve been trying to buy a house for probably ten years. I have five children and there’s seven of us, so we all live in a three-bedroom house."

Starks said he is excited to participate in the program and purchase a larger home for his family.

The City of Denver hopes the program will increase homeownership among people of color from 41% to 45% by 2026.