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Credit Unions Offer Programs to Help First-Time NC Homebuyers


Tuesday, June 28, 2022   

June is National Homeownership Month - and some North Carolina credit unions and banks say they're working to reduce the racial wealth gap by offering programs to help low-income residents, especially residents of color, purchase their first home.

Tucker Bartlett - executive vice president of the Self-Help Credit Union - said homeownership rates among Black North Carolinans has hovered at around 47%, compared with 75% for white households.

He said Self-Help has implemented credit-building and savings programs and offered financial coaching to help reduce barriers and shrink homeownership gaps.

"And our hope is through these types of homeownership-type programs, we're doing just that," said Bartlett. "To help those that don't have the benefit of generational wealth, to start creating wealth for their family, and their kids."

Data from the U.S. Mortgage Insurers' 2021 National Homeownership Market Survey shows that the major obstacles preventing homeownership for people of color include the inability to afford a 20% down payment, low credit score, and a low supply of affordable homes.

Robin Pipkin of Orange County said she and her husband had saved for nearly six years to purchase a home, but still didn't feel ready.

She said meeting with a financial advisor at Self-Help Credit Union boosted their confidence they'd be able to buy. She and her family now own a three-bedroom home with land.

"She's like, yeah, if you just do this, do that, you should be in a good place," said Pipkin. "And we were really excited to find that out because we thought we were maybe going to have to wait another year or so."

Bartlett said a few strategies can make the difference for first-time homebuyers.

"And specifically that is done by offering programs that are 100% financing," said Bartlett, "or down-payment assistance programs to address closing costs and down payment."

According to the National Association of Realtors, nationwide in 2020 the homeownership among White Americans was around 72%, and around 43% for Black Americans.

Disclosure: Self-Help Credit Union contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Environment, Health Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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