Black Wealth Builders Fund Supports Black Homeownership

A Bay Area loan fund provides Black homebuyers with zero-interest loans to meet their down payments. But is it ‘reparations?’

2 minute read

December 27, 2022, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View of homes and Alameda, California skyline in background

Matt Gush / Alameda, California

A new loan fund in the San Francisco Bay Area is creating a new model for supporting Black homeownership by offering zero-interest loans to help Black households make the down payment on a home, which is often a major stumbling block for new homebuyers. Frances Nguyen reports on the story for Next City.

The idea for the Black Wealth Builders Fund came out of discussions between an anti-racist discussion group started by members of a Berkeley church and local community leaders and is supported by the Richmond Community Foundation and the Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services (RHNS). “So far, the fund has assisted 21 families in Alameda and Contra Costa counties,” Nguyen writes.

As Nguyen explains, “When the church group set out to find ways to address racial harm in the community, they expressly sought to develop a project that would engage in some form of reparations,” although the group acknowledges that the fund is “an imperfect attempt at reparations proper.”

Some critics of the term ‘reparations’ argue that it obscures the scale of what would be needed to begin addressing the “true debt that this country still owes descendants of US slavery.” According to author William A. Darity, Jr., “It’s not possible for these personal or private efforts to address the racial wealth gap in a systemic way because the magnitude of the gap is so large.” Rather, Darity says, “Individuals and organizations with a commitment to racial redress should invest their time and effort in the more demanding task of building the national movement that will propel Congress toward adopting a comprehensive federal program of reparations for Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved in the United States.”

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