These Zero-Interest Loans Help Black Americans Buy Houses

A Bay area church designed a program that it says isn’t charity; it’s countering systemic racism.

black woman holds up house keys

(Photo by Freepik)

When a group of majority-white churchgoers wanted to address the ways they had benefited from the long-term effects of redlining, the congregation near Berkeley, California, teamed up with community organizations to launch the Black Wealth Builders Fund

The fund offers zero-interest loans to help Black families in the Bay Area cover the cost of a down payment on a mortgage or closing costs. The loans range from $15,000 to $20,000 and are only paid back when the family sells or refinances their home, ensuring the funds can be recycled back into the program.

In this episode of the Next City podcast, Executive Director Lucas Grindley speaks with reporter Frances Nguyen about her story on the realization that inspired the congregation to raise money and launch the program.

We also hear from Nikki Beasley, executive director of Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services, and Richmond Community Foundation CEO Jim Becker about the creation and operation of the Black Wealth Builders Fund, its impact on Bay Area homeowners, and how similar programs can be implemented in other cities.

“In the wake of George Floyd's murder, we've had a lot of attention to the African-American Black community from people wanting to know how they could help,” says Beasley. She said it’s “not so uncommon” to hear from people wondering what to do. “But I would say that it was interesting that again, they were targeted, they were unapologetic of who they wanted to serve, and that they did have a church membership that had invested in the calls.”

Listen to this episode below or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple, Spotify or Goodpods.

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