Although the Charlotte region's property market is weakening, finding affordable homes is tough. One of…
Bank of America is now giving zero-down mortgages to first-time Black and Latino homeowners. Last week, Bank of America announced sweeping changes to its top management, including big shifts for two of Charlotte’s most renowned banking executives. Bank of America is introducing a new program in Charlotte and many other locations that will provide Black and Latino communities home loans with no down payment and no closing expenses. The bank said this week that the “Community Inexpensive Loan Solution” initiative intends to provide more affordable mortgages and bridge the homeownership gap between white and black or Latino Americans. The bank headquartered in Charlotte is also introducing the program in Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Miami. The initiative would analyze first-time homeowners’ creditworthiness based on timely rent, utility bills, phone, and vehicle insurance payments. Individual eligibility for the loans will be determined by both income and residence. Prior to application, prospective purchasers must take a homebuyer certification course. It is still unknown when the program will begin accepting applications.
The Bank of America mortgage announcement referenced National Association of Realtors data indicating a roughly 30% disparity in homeownership rates between whites and African-Americans.
ADDRESSING THE RACIAL HOMEOWNERSHIP GAP
The Bank of America statement referenced National Association of Realtors data indicating a roughly 30% disparity in homeownership rates between whites and African-Americans. The homeownership disparity between whites and Latinos is approximately 20%. According to a March article by Stacker, an online news organization specializing in data analysis, the national difference is comparable to Charlotte’s. “The competitive housing market has made it more difficult for potential homebuyers, particularly persons of color, to purchase houses,” Bank of America stated in a press statement.
AJ Barkley, head of neighborhood and community lending at Bank of America, stated in a press release that homeownership assists families in accumulating wealth over time. Bank of America is the largest bank in Charlotte in terms of assets and deposits, accounting for around 62% of the market. It employs over 16,000 individuals here.
SUFFICIENT TO CLOSE THE GAP
Michael Hoard is the president of the Charlotte Crown Black Real Estate Association and a local real estate attorney. According to him, programs like Bank of America’s new effort can be useful, but they do not address the underlying inequities in homeownership. “Black (borrowers) were discriminated against in so many different ways over time,” Hoard added. “Bank of America’s program is an outstanding endeavor. I don’t believe it will be sufficient to close the deficit considerably.” In his experience in Charlotte, solutions that go beyond supplying finance have proven to be more beneficial. “It is not enough to simply give someone something; they must also be able to sustain and retain it,” Hoard stated. “It remains a problem, especially for first-time homebuyers, to provide loans without perhaps some form of wraparound counseling or periodic checks,” the author explains.
SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM
According to the bank, Bank of America is also introducing a small business grant program in Charlotte to help women- and minority-owned small companies. It is intended to give financing to “historically disadvantaged” small company borrowers and reduce the cost of commercial real estate. The initiative would provide up to $25,000 in down payment assistance to qualifying firms applying for commercial real estate financing. Applicants must make a minimum down payment of 5%. In 2023, there are plans to extend to Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
OTHER RACIAL EQUALITY PROGRAMS
In recent years, Bank of America has devoted major charitable resources to racial justice initiatives. This includes a $10 million investment in Johnson C. Smith University, the only historically black university in Charlotte. It is a portion of the bank’s $25 million commitment to the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative, a public-private collaboration aimed at resolving the city’s historic racial inequities. In cooperation with Atrium Health, the bank also donated $10 million in August to provide in-school healthcare to Title 1 kids in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.
Following the death of George Floyd, Bank of America made news in June 2020 for a $1 billion commitment to improve racial equality in the United States. Bank of America upped the sum to $1.25 billion later on. Contact Hoard Law for any legal advice on zero-down mortgages to first-time Black and Latino homeowners.