Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and local elected officials joined LISC Houston and the Harris County Homeownership Collaborative, or HCHC, to announce the launch of a new initiative to expand homeownership opportunities for Black, Hispanic and other underserved individuals and families. Funded with a $7.5 million grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation, the initiative kicked off with a panel discussion featuring prominent leaders from the collaborative discussing solutions to racial homeownership gaps across Houston and Harris County.
The donation to Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC, Houston comes from Wells Fargo’s Wealth Opportunity Restored Through Homeownership, or WORTH, initiative, a $60 million national effort to address systemic barriers to homeownership for people of color. Houston is the first of eight markets across the U.S. to launch its WORTH grant, which aims to help create 5,000 new homeowners of color in Harris County by the end of 2025.
“I commend Wells Fargo for its commitment to empowering communities of color through this generous grant. Homeownership is one of the first steps toward building generational wealth, but it has been historically and systemically limited for Black and brown families,” said Mayor Turner. “LISC Houston has a strong history of connecting people with the resources they need to succeed, and I look forward to what this collaboration will do for this city.”
“Homeownership is key to reaching the American dream for the majority of immigrants, first‑generation Americans and minorities across our nation and region,” said Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia. “Unfortunately, many Latino and Black families, like the ones in my district, face disproportionate challenges and barriers on their path to homeownership. I welcome all efforts aimed at increasing homeownership in communities that face these challenges.”
“As a company, we’re committed to creating opportunities for more people of color to buy their own homes,” said Otis Rolley, Wells Fargo’s Head of Social Impact and President of the Wells Fargo Foundation. “We know that without very deliberate interventions from the public and private sector, the racial homeownership gap will continue to grow. Today’s donation in Houston is about identifying specific housing challenges in the city and accelerating actions that will build homeownership, which in turn, grows generational wealth.”
Serving as the lead convener for the Harris County Homeownership Collaborative, LISC Houston brings together housing advocacy, counseling, financing and development organizations committed to advancing sustainable homeownership. Members of the Collaborative include Avenue, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, Houston Habitat for Humanity, Tejano Center for Community Concerns, the City of Houston Housing & Community Development Department and the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation.
According to the 2022 State of Housing report by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, homeownership rates have fallen for Black households in Harris County from 41% in 2010 to 36% in 2020. Homeownership rates for white households have also dropped but remain significantly higher with 71% in 2010 and 68% in 2020. Homeownership rates for Hispanic households have remained steady around 51% in 2020.
Working together over the next four years, the collaborative plans to tap the grant to implement a variety of strategies to expand housing inventory and support homebuyers, including:
- Innovations that reduce construction costs and create housing stock, such as manufactured or modular homes
- Comprehensive outreach and education campaigns
- Increasing access to flexible, affordable mortgage products
- Continuing policy efforts to address systemic barriers impacting homeownership
The launch of HCHC builds on significant local efforts by partners to address housing challenges. It is also a critical part of LISC’s national efforts to narrow gaps in health, wealth and opportunity, particularly through Project 10X, a $1 billion commitment to reducing racial disparities.
“HCHC is an investment in the well‑being of our families and the long‑term health of our economy,” said Laura Jaramillo, Executive Director of LISC Houston. “It will help address long‑standing discrimination in our housing system, so more people can build wealth and support giving their children a good start in life. And it will help anchor the stability of our communities, addressing key aspects of affordability, availability and sustainability of quality housing. We are grateful for the leadership of the mayor and community leaders on these key issues, and the support of Wells Fargo to push this program forward.”