Free Money for Black Home Buyers

Berkeley NAACP Chapter to Showcase Mortgage Broker with Down Payment Grants

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If you’re buying a house, did you know there’s a pool of $50 million waiting to help Black residents with down payments?

You’re invited to hear a mortgage specialist who will tell you how African  Americans are cracking open these funds. On Saturday Sept. 14, 2019, come to the Berkeley NAACP chapter’s general membership meeting where Michael E. Rutland Jr. will explain an exciting array of down payment assistance (DPA) grants.

Rutland, a native of Richmond, CA., is a loan originator with United Security Financial Corporation. That’s a Black-owned mortgage company that has partnered with the trade group for black real estate brokers to make $50 million in assistance funds available for low and moderate-income African Americans.

Rutland will discuss a variety of ways to finance your next house at the September monthly meeting of the Berkeley NAACP. He’ll also answer your questions. This event is free and open to the public. The meeting runs from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will be held at the Harriet Tubman Terrace Community Room, which is located at 2870 Adeline Street (just two blocks from the Ashby BART station) in Berkeley.

United Security Financial, which is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, sources home loans for buyers all across the United States. Meanwhile, its partner, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), has advocated for Black home buyers to enjoy “Democracy in Housing” for 73 years.

One of the biggest obstacles for any would-be homebuyer is coming up with the big nut of a down payment. Yet few African Americans probably know that they might qualify for free or low-priced money from one of more than 2,500 down payment-assistance programs across the country. The number of these programs increased by 10 percent between 2010 and 2016. That’s according to an analysis by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation or Freddie Mac.

Last February, United Security and NAREB announced that a federally-chartered government agency – LBC Funding, LLC – had committed $50 million to help low- and moderate income home buyers get over the proverbial hump by fronting them the all-important down payment.

Rutland, who is flying in from Utah specifically to address the Berkeley NAACP, will talk about DPA plans that his company offers.

They include programs for first-time home buyers such as the Eagle Connect Fund and Freedom Choice, and programs that don’t have a first-time buyer requirement including the Freedom Plus and Freedom Advantage options. All of these provide the buyer with between 3 percent and 3.5 percent of the house price up to certain limits.

Of course, prospects must qualify. Generally, a person needs a credit score of 620 or better. Some of the programs impose an income limit based upon the area median income (AMI).

Rutland will even discuss what his company calls a Zero Down Payment Mortgage. “[That’]s a great option for clients that have limited cash on hand,” he writes in an email. “We understand the need for affordable housing is greater than ever before.”

Black homeowners are becoming an endangered species. After World War II, federal policy and the so-called G.I. Bill subsidized millions of white military veterans to buy homes but granted only a trickle to Black vets. More recently, race-based predatory lending led to minorities being foreclosed on in disproportionate numbers after the 2008 mortgage crisis.

The Berkeley NAACP, under chapter president Mansour Id-Deen, brings housing issues to the forefront. The organization and its housing committee address disparities, injustices and solutions with city commissions as well as residents and other stakeholders.

Recently, for instance, the Berkeley NAACP partnered with activist group The Friends of Adeline to turn back an effort by the City of Berkeley to evict an elderly Black veteran and homeowner whom a court had ordered to make more than $700,000 in city code renovations.

The NAACP also was among organizations that helped pay the man’s legal and administrative fees.

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