Sunday, May 19, 2024

Building generational wealth in Black communities: A path to economic empowerment

By STEPHANIE QUICK

While Black History Month may have closed in February, reflecting on the ongoing journey toward equity and empowerment within Black communities is crucial. One of the most impactful avenues toward equity is financial security, but unfortunately, that is not easily attainable for many. Antiquated lending practices often make it challenging for minorities to climb out of financial difficulties that have plagued their families for generations.

Why is generational wealth so vital? It’s about providing families with the means to invest in anything from college tuition to unexpected medical debt, laying a foundation of stability and prosperity for future generations. In order to make this level of financial security attainable for everyone, lenders need to make intentional efforts to restore hope and provide opportunities for equitable access to funding. At Intend Indiana, our goal is to sell no less than 70% of the homes we develop to Black home buyers, and we aim to lend no less than 70% of our available loan dollars to Black borrowers. I am excited to share that we have surpassed that goal for the past two years. We understand that to see diversity in generational wealth, we first have to create affordable and equitable wealth-building opportunities. 

We are making tangible progress through initiatives like our Affordable Home Matters, Build Fund, Edge Fund, and Renew Landbank. For example, our Home Power initiative has empowered new homeowners to secure affordable homes and mortgages, often with significant equity at the closing table. By facilitating homeownership, people are not only gaining shelter; they’re gaining stability, control, and the opportunity to build equity for the future.

Our Build Fund provides the same wealth-building opportunity for entrepreneurs. Statistics have shown that Black and brown business owners are more likely to be denied credit, pay higher rates, be charged higher fees, and face longer turnaround times compared to similar non-minority borrowers. The flexible loan terms from Build Fund allow business owners to thrive and create businesses that last for generations, allowing families to reshape the future for generations to come. We’ve seen the transformative impact of these initiatives firsthand, with businesses flourishing and creating new pathways to prosperity.

Prioritizing inclusivity and diversity requires a conscious effort from all of us. We as individuals need to assess the table we’re seated at and note the missing faces. By doing this, Intend can target Black small business owners and homebuyers, ensuring access to tailored financial products that meet their specific needs. Additionally, we recognize a need for borrowers to see themselves reflected in the lenders they depend on for their wealth growth. The diversity in our staff and board mirrors the communities we serve, fostering trust, understanding, and meaningful engagement.

One of the greatest things about the work I am able to do with Intend is hearing the success stories of those who have taken advantage of our products and initiatives. We recently heard from Patty, a borrower of our IndyAMP program that offers affordable mortgage refinancing options for homeowners. She shared how the program allowed her to reach peace of mind. Through the efforts of our Edge Fund initiative, we were able to coordinate a mobile closing for Patty so she didn’t have to leave work to close her loan. Also, our 90-day grace period on first-time payments allowed Patty to pay off additional debts and find housing and financial stability. Individuals like Patty who have decided to jump and connect with us have experienced newfound stability and financial freedom. These stories underscore the profound difference that targeted investments can make in narrowing the racial wealth gap and promoting economic mobility.

As we move forward, our vision remains ambitious yet attainable. We are continuing our fight toward economic equity by investing millions in affordable housing, lending and development, and we urge other lenders to prioritize the same goals. Let us reaffirm our commitment to building a future where every individual, regardless of race or background, has the opportunity to achieve economic prosperity. Investing in generational wealth-building initiatives and fostering inclusive economic ecosystems can create a more just and equitable society for future generations.

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