Black Homeownership Project Releases New Findings and Program Recommendations to Address Growing Decline of Black Homeownership in New York City

The Center for NYC Neighborhoods initiative finds that New York City’s Black homebuyers pay more to buy a home than White buyers, including higher closing costs and interest rates

New pilot programs for down payment assistance, matched savings, and tenant opportunities to purchase could address widening homeownership racial gap in NYC

NEW YORK, March 17, 2021 — The Black Homeownership Project, an initiative from the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, today released new findings to support a proposed slate of recommended pilot programs that would increase homeownership among Black communities in NYC and work to close the racial homeownership and wealth gaps.

“The homeownership gap is worse for Black Americans now than ever before and has only grown wider amid the pandemic. In New York City, Black families make up only 18% of homeowners, yet they represent more than 60% of the Center’s clients looking for assistance in buying and keeping their homes,” said Christie Peale, CEO and Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “Through the Black Homeownership Project, we are uncovering new details of how these national trends show up locally and proposing NYC specific programs to create meaningful change so that Black homeowners can buy homes and stay in the communities they love.”

Over the last year, the Black Homeownership Project surveyed dozens of Black homeowners, housing counselors and program practitioners to address the existing systemic issues leading to a vast racial wealth gap and decline in Black homeownership, further exacerbated by the pandemic. The work built on the Center’s earlier finding that the number of Black homeowner households in NYC has declined by 13% over the past 20 years due to unsustainable and predatory mortgage practices and skyrocketing prices. Some of the new findings include:

  • Black homebuyers pay more to buy a home, paying greater closing costs and higher interest rates than White buyers. On average, Black homebuyers paid $7,000 more in closing costs than White homebuyers in New York City.

  • Many homebuyers are unable to buy in their neighborhoods. Housing counselors reported that home buyers often had to go outside their neighborhoods to find a home they could afford.

  • Financing home repairs is a leading challenge for homeowners. 80% of interviewed homeowners cited home repairs, as well as finding reliable contractors, as one of their major challenges to maintain and keep their homes.

These findings have informed and shaped the initiative’s five pilot program recommendations:

  • Down Payment Assistance Navigator: Assembling a down payment is one of the greatest barriers to homeownership for Black New Yorkers. While there are down payment assistance (DPA) products available, the terms of each program are often hard to parse, the availability of funds is constantly changing, and combining funds from different sources is difficult. The DPA Navigator will be a unified digital resource available to both potential homebuyers and pre-purchase counselors to improve access to existing products by leveraging and expanding relationships with lenders and other DPA administrators and supplying up-to-date information about their products. The Navigator will lay the groundwork to create systemic changes in the DPA field, shifting processes, timelines, and pain points so more people, specifically people of color, have access to homeownership and are better served.

  • Savings Accelerator: Developing adequate savings is difficult for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers who can suffer from a feedback loop in which a lack of access to safe and affordable financing pushes them towards extractive financial products which damages their credit and puts prime financing further out of reach. In the NYC metro area, 11% of Black households and 12.2% of Hispanic households do not have a bank account, compared to 2% of White households. Matched savings are a proven way of incentivizing and amplifying saving behaviors by matching funds someone deposits in a savings account within a certain time frame. A Matched Savings program for aspiring homebuyers and existing homeowners with a generous match on funds will help them develop a savings habit and make progress towards their goals. This program will increase the financial resiliency of Black homeowners, help aspiring homeowners save for a downpayment, and connect underbanked individuals with services.

  • Homeowner Landlord Service: Many homeowners are landlords too, relying on rental income to pay their mortgage, taxes, insurance, and upkeep costs. Homeowner landlords tend to be low- to moderate-income (LMI) and are often concentrated in neighborhoods of color. These “mom and pop” landlords are a critical source of affordable housing — 39% of NYC buildings have 4 units or less — and they disproportionately rent to renters of color and LMI New Yorkers, a population also deeply impacted by COVID-19. But these homeowners face barriers to maintaining their critical rental income, including finding and retaining tenants, maintaining their properties, and complying with complex regulations. A new program focused on support services for mom-and-pop landlords would help preserve this source of affordable rentals, including education from City housing agencies, connecting with trusted lenders and contractors for repairs and support, tenant mediation programs, and more.

  • “Generation 2 Generation” Estate Planning: For too many Black families in NYC, inheriting a home does not lead to sustained homeownership. Deed theft, predatory lending, and expensive entanglements with tax liens and other inherited debts are major obstacles to the safe transfer of homes across generations. A “Generation 2 Generation” Estate Planning program would preserve and grow intergenerational wealth in Black households by enhancing awareness of the importance of estate planning and increasing pro bono estate planning services for low-income homeowners. The program would increase proactive estate planning among Black homeowners in target neighborhoods through community engagement and service provision partnerships with local organizations.

  • Pathways to Tenant Purchase: In previous decades, the City has supported the creation of tens of thousands of below-market co-ops and encouraged renters to take ownership of their own buildings. These initiatives greatly benefited households of color, and without them, sky-high prices have pushed homeownership out of reach for many families. A Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Pilot would take a three pronged approach to support the creation of new co-ops: identifying tenant associations and buildings for viable conversion to limited equity co-ops; providing technical assistance to tenant organizers and tenant groups through nonprofit partnerships; identifying the financial needs of tenants who want to convert their building to a limited equity co-operative and, finally, using that information to source mission-aligned capital to assist with the acquisition.

To learn more about the Black Homeownership Project, please visit


About the Center for New York City Neighborhoods

The Center for New York City Neighborhoods promotes and protects affordable homeownership in New York City so working- and middle-class families can build strong, thriving communities. We carry out our mission to promote and protect affordable homeownership through the lenses of racial equity and climate change. Established by public and private partners, the Center meets the diverse needs of homeowners throughout New York state by offering free, high-quality housing services. Since our founding in 2008, our network has assisted over 200,000 homeowners, and provided more than $60 million in funding to community-based partners. Visit to learn more.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email