By: Marc Bartel, HomeSight’s Communications & Marketing Manager

HomeSight Announces New “Sam Smith ‘Hi Neighbor’ Homeownership Fund” –  A Deferred Loan Product Designed for African American First-Time Homebuyers

(Seattle, WA – December 7, 2021) HomeSight, a 501(c)(3) non-profit Community Development Financial Institution and Community Development Corporation, in partnership with Windermere Real Estate, U.S. Bank, and National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), recently launched a new loan product to increase purchasing power and help bridge the affordability gap facing Black/African American homebuyers earning between 80% and 120% area median income in Washington state. The Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund can give eligible borrows up to $12,000 to layer into a mortgage loan to use towards their home’s purchase cost.

Named after legendary Washington State Legislator Sam Smith, who championed the passing of the state’s Open Housing Law barring discrimination based on race and religion in 1967, HomeSight’s new fund hopes to be part of a solution that helps increase Black/African Americans homeownership in the state of Washington.

After working closely with the Smith family, Carl Smith, son of Legislator Sam Smith, said “It’s an honor and a pleasure to have HomeSight use the Sam Smith name for them to pursue equity in home purchases,” Carl continued, “My grandfather instilled in my father that the way to have freedom is to have land and for people in that era, it was freedom.”

According to a report by National Association of Realtors, Black/African American homebuyers are more than twice as likely to be rejected for mortgage loans than white homebuyers.1 Nationwide, only 43% of Black/African Americans can afford to buy a home versus 63% for Whites.2 In Seattle, the Black/African American homeownership rate is 25.8% compared to 50.9% of White homeowners.3 While in King County, the median income for Black households is $48,075, about half the median income of White households at $94,533.4

Windermere Real Estate is the largest regional real estate company in the Western U.S., with over 300 offices and 7,000 agents. Windermere has committed the financial resources of the Windermere Foundation and intends to work with their Agents in the State of Washington to contribute to boost the fund over the next three years.

“After the murder of George Floyd, we got together and decided that it’s morally imperative that we get involved. So, we put Equity and Inclusion as a top priority in the company,” says OB Jacobi, President of Windermere Real Estate. “What we did at Windemere was created a document called Windermere Pillars, focused on effecting change in community and leadership, and one of the pillars was Home Ownership. After meeting with HomeSight, we agreed that the Sam Smith ‘Hi Neighbor’ Homeownership Fund was perfect for us to get behind and push homeownership that can effect change in such a positive way.”

Since 1990, HomeSight has worked to preserve and promote economically and culturally-diverse communities through affordable homeownership, business development, and community advocacy. They believe that communities can only be strong, vibrant, and equitable if homeownership is attainable, cultural anchors can thrive in place, small businesses have access to the knowledge and tools to excel in changing markets, and prosperity is built and shared amongst all members of each unique community.

Nicole Bascomb-Green, VP/Community Affairs Manager, US Bank, NAREB Washington State Chapter President, and a HomeSight board member, has been integral in the creation of the fund. “In my work it’s very important for me that we continue to talk about black homeownership because everyone I knew growing up was a homeowner. Well, we went from having high homeownership numbers during those times and now black homeownership is down to around 28% in Seattle and King County, and that’s just unacceptable,” said Bascomb-Green. She continues, “My work with NAREB is all about democracy in housing, supporting homeownership – particularly black homeownership and other disenfranchised communities, and ensuring we have that capacity to have generational wealth. That’s what this country was built on.”

The Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund is made possible through HomeSight funds and private philanthropy. To learn more about the fund and/or make a donation, please visit: https://www.homesightwa.org/sam-smith-hi-neighbor-homeownership-fund/

(1)(2) A Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America (2021), National Association of Realtors. https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2021-snapshot-of-race-and-home-buyers-in-america-report-02-19-2021.pdf

(3)(4) The Racial Wealth Divide in Seattle, WA (2021), Racial Wealth Divide Prosperity Now. https://prosperitynow.org/sites/default/files/resources/Racial%20Wealth%20Divide_%20Profile_Seattle_FINAL_3.15.21.pdf

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