Cost of Home Program Celebrates Three Years of Home Affordability Focusing Now on Black Homeownership Gap

On June 12, 2022, Habitat for Humanity International marked the third anniversary of its global Cost of Home (COH) campaign, a collaboration among more than 400 Habitat affiliates worldwide working to increase access to home affordability and stability through policy and system changes at all levels of government. In three short years, 6.1 million people’s lives have already been transformed.

Thanks to a grant from HFH International, Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas County’s COH has contributed to helping 1.6 million people who have or will benefit from the nearly $1.3 billion assessed for affordable housing across the housing spectrum in our region.

Habitat SKC’s Cost of Home program has generated nearly 10,000 letters to lawmakers from homeowners and advocates, published news stories and Op-Eds in local papers to support their work, hosted Governor Jay Inslee at a Seattle build site for a press event focused on funding for “missing middle” housing and homeownership policy, and worked diligently to extend state and city eviction moratoriums, as well as a range of other tenant protection provisions.

This year, Habitat for Humanity International will amplify the Cost of Home program by launching its Advancing Black Homeownership initiative.  Thanks to a recent, beyond generous donation from MacKenzie Scott, Habitat will apply COH tools to engage in policy and systems change for Black families. Currently, only 43.1% of Black Americans own homes, compared to 74.4% of white Americans – an historic 30% gap.

Habitat International will initially invest more than $25 million over the next three to five years — with a goal of raising $100 million or more — to develop and launch a slate of new programs, including an equitable commercial lending strategy and property acquisition fund through Habitat Mortgage Solutions, HFHs community development financial institution. These are substantive answers to some of the racial and systemic biases that have stymied Black access to homeownership for generations. The initiative’s programs will help end the social and economic disparity many Black people and communities of color continue to face. 

Habitat SKC has embraced and will continue to support efforts to grow homeownership opportunities for our Black communities. On the legislative front, Habitat SKC’s COH program succeeded in ending exclusionary neighborhood councils during the 2022 session. We are working to alter the Seattle land use code designation, increase city level growth targets and it has advanced conversation on exclusionary zoning statewide.

While Cost of Homes aims to tackle the unprecedented record shortage of affordable homes overall, the addition of the Advancing Black Homeownership initiative is a natural during June as National Homeownership Month and as we mark our country’s second Independence Day with Juneteenth. This advocacy work allows Habitat for Humanity to expand its work locally and internationally.

It’s more important than ever to celebrate the value that owning a home brings to families, communities, and neighborhoods. There is no better example than the families with whom Habitat partners. For these individuals, homeownership means safety, security, and a sense of belonging. On a grand scale, affordable homeownership creates a diverse and inclusive community and helps keep our workforce strong.

With inflation skyrocketing to a 40-year high, everyday Americans are struggling even more to balance the cost of housing and other necessities. Habitat’s Cost of Home program becomes even more critical in advocating to ensure that everyonehas a safe, decent, and affordable place to live.

Please thank your legislative leaders for doing so much so far by following this link: