Homeownership program in Three Rivers works to address disparities and close gap

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June 7, 2021 / 5 mins read
Homeownership program in Three Rivers works to address disparities and close gap

Achieve Homeownership is a collaborative program provided by Three Rivers Community Action that identifies and addresses barriers to homeownership faced by diverse households across the southern Minnesota counties of Goodhue, Olmsted, Rice and Wabasha. It provides relevant, culturally-tailored financial and homeowner education and counseling services that are essential for successful first-time homeownership.

“Achieve Homeownership actively works to address homeownership disparities,” said Jenny Larson, executive director for Three Rivers. “Minnesota has one of the highest homeownership rates in the nation, but also one of the highest racial disparity gaps in homeownership.”

According to the 2020 State of Housing in Black America report, 73.4 percent of white households owned their own home, while 42.1 percent of Black households owned their homes, creating a national gap between Black and white homeownership of about 30 percent. While in Minnesota, according to 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) data, white individuals own homes at a rate of 76.9 percent compared to Black individuals who own homes at a rate of 25.3 percent—creating a homeownership gap of more than 50 percent.

“In response, Three Rivers worked with many local and state partners to develop a targeted assistance program to directly identify and address the barriers to homeownership faced by households of color in our region,” Larson said. “The Achieve Homeownership model provides assistance that is tailored to meet the households where they are and then moves them through the homebuying process. Our diverse staff are trained as financial empowerment coaches, housing counselors, homeownership advisors, and homebuyer educators. The staff speak multiple languages that allow us to serve our region’s culturally diverse communities.”

Leah Hall, the community development director added, that “what makes this program unique is how the staff truly reflect the diverse communities we are serving. We also work closely with partner organizations in the community who advocate and serve immigrants and refugees to foster these relationships.”

The methods of the unique program have proven effective. By combining culturally-connected real estate professionals with local community forums and leveraging related funding (down payment assistance, gap financing, affordable mortgage products, etc.), Achieve Homeownership provides a continuum of housing guidance for southern Minnesota’s diverse population.

“Before, I felt like we didn’t have a community,” said one of the Achieve Homeownership participants who bought a home with help from the program. “We belong now, my kids have a place to run and be loud, and that is all because of Three Rivers.”

Since 2008, Achieve Homeownership staff have facilitated:

  • Hundreds of community homebuyer trainings
  • 506 households have purchased homes
  • 1,507 households have graduated from the Homestretch program
  • 1,972 households have completed comprehensive Homebuyer Counseling Services