MAHA and Mayor Wu Announce Historic Investment to Shrink Racial Wealth Gap, Stabilize Boston’s Communities of Color

Dorchester - Mayor Michelle Wu, standing with members of the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA) at the community organization’s office, today announced a historic $106 million commitment to affordable homeownership, focusing on serving first-time and first-generation homebuyers of color. Read Dorchester Reporter article here.

This homeownership commitment from the City of Boston will:

• Build hundreds of affordable homes for low- to moderate-income first-time and first-generation buyers. The high cost of housing and lack of inventory are huge barriers to homebuyers across the region. These new homes will directly address the acute need in Boston’s neighborhoods where price increases have been rapidly accelerating and median incomes are lower than in surrounding areas.

• Enable the City and MAHA to quadruple the size of grants provided to homebuyers through
MAHA’s first- generation homebuyer matched savings and support program known as STASH. Homebuyers will save $2,000 over the course of a year and receive a $20,000 match. 96% of program participants to date are homebuyers of color. STASH is a first-in-the-nation first-generation homebuyer program launched by MAHA in 2019 with support from Boston Children's Collaboration for Community Health intiative.

• Help homebuyers achieve their dream of homeownership through the ONE+Boston Program. This program dramatically increases buying power through a combination of interest rate subsidies and enhanced down payment assistance. It is specifically designed to address racial disparities in mortgage lending and the racial homeownership gap in Boston. Over 70% of program homebuyers to date are households of color.

“Homeownership is crucial to building generational wealth and long term stability for families,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “We have an opportunity to transform what homeownership looks like in Boston. These investments will support existing programs for first time homebuyers, build generational wealth for Boston families, and help bring Boston one step closer to becoming a Green New Deal city.”

MAHA Executive Director Symone Crawford said, “We are thrilled that Mayor Wu and our city councilors understand the needs of thousands of MAHA members and graduates. And I’m proud of our MAHA community leaders who have worked so diligently to make this happen. This is an amazing accomplishment and a strong foundation for all of us to build on.”

Referring to the Federal Reserve report that found that white households in Greater Boston have an average net worth of $247,500 while American Black households have just $8, MAHA Board President Esther Dupie said, “If we want to do something about the racial wealth gap, we have to address our homeownership gap. That’s where the money is.”

MAHA STASH graduate and new ONE+Boston Program homeowner Zainab Shuaib spoke about the financial assistance, coaching, and support she received: “Buying a home was something I wanted, but didn’t know I could achieve. By the grace of God, STASH, ONE+Boston, and MAHA made it possible. Now my daughter has a place to play outside, I have control of my housing, and I’m building equity and a more secure future for both of us”.

She was followed by MAHA activist Jenny Marcelin who said, “I’m so committed to this. As a single mom with two children, I need a home of my own. I came here from Haiti 21 years ago, and Boston is the only place my kids have known. Their school services are here, our connections are here. I am grateful to MAHA for giving me and others like me a voice.”

In Massachusetts, the racial divide in homeownership is stark: 69% of white households own their homes. That figure is just 35.4% for households of color. That means households of color are disproportionately impacted by increasing rents, building sales where the new owners want the building delivered vacant, and other threats to housing security that can result in homelessness and displacement.

MAHA’s mission is to educate and mobilize individuals and communities to break down barriers for first-time and first-generation homebuyers, and increase affordable, sustainable homeownership opportunities. Through education and civic engagement, we are committed to reducing the racial homeownership gap in Boston and throughout the state. MAHA graduated over 5,200 people from our first-time homebuyer classes over the last two years. People are stressed by ever increasing rents and hungry to purchase a home of their own. We will continue to expand our organizing in support of policies and funding that promote construction of homes at all price points, fair housing, and community lending.

We deeply appreciate our partnerships with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) and other activists across the city who are working together to address our housing affordability crisis.