An innovative program that has enabled 500 African American families in Detroit to purchase their own homes was recently cited for national recognition.
“The American dream of homeownership and its financial and social benefits to families has been strengthened locally in a big way,” said Louise G. Guyton, Comerica Bank Vice President. “The WOW Program has created help and hope where in the past there was little. It is a credit to this program and its members that so many have experienced homeownership in Metro-Detroit.”
With Ownership, Wealth (WOW), created in 2001 by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) to help 1 million African American families become homeowners within five years, cited its Detroit program as the “WOW Program of the Year - 2006.” The Detroit WOW program was honored at the Best Practices Summit Reception recently held at the National Association of Realtors Building in Washington DC.
“The WOW Initiative was created by the members of the Congressional Black Caucus to increase minority home ownership in the 37 Districts they represent,” explains Congressman John Conyers, Jr. Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The program was designed to help prospective homeowners overcome the obstacles that traditionally prevent minorities from becoming property owners.
Congressional representatives Conyers and Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick introduced the WOW program in 2003 to metro-Detroit industry professionals from all sectors of the community.
“Congressman Conyers and I strongly believe that the WOW Initiative creates a serious campaign to increase the number of homeowners in metro Detroit. It is gaining national success by offering a program of outreach, promotion and awareness. This is needed to accomplish our goals,” said Congresswoman Kilpatrick.
The Detroit WOW Taskforce, chaired by Louise G. Guyton, Vice President of Comerica Bank and Byna Elliott, Vice President o Fifth Third Bank, joined riers to homeownership, and implement a strategy that would meet the CBCF goals. A few of the Detroit WOW success stories:
The Taskforce raised over $300,000 and leveraged an additional $100,000 for the counseling agency directly.
WOW members provided over $150,000 in down payment assistance to the 500-targeted homebuyers. More than 2500 individuals were touched by the WOW partner-counseling agency as a direct result of the Detroit WOW Imitative.
As added value, and through the WOW coalition partnership, the counseling agency was able to provide information to homebuyers about affordable housing available in the Metro Detroit region.
The Taskforce hosted a summit to discuss barriers to homeownership with legislators and policymakers and created a sub-committee to track legislation to support issues that positively impact housing.
The initiative was so successful that all stakeholders agreed to continue the program well beyond 2005.
Detroit WOW’s focus in the next two years will center on investment, financial planning and foreclosure prevention.
“This is a great honor for everyone involved in Detroit WOW, as well as an acknowledgment of the techniques we used to help so many people realize the dream of home ownership,” said Anika Foster, Detroit LISC’s senior program director. “We think that home ownership is a critical element in enabling families to build wealth and security, and we’re confident that the services we provided through this program will continue to benefit residents throughout the city.”
The national goal is to assist one million African Americans and other minority families in becoming homeowners by 2005 in the 37 Congressional Black Caucus Member Districts. The local WOW Initiative, primarily targeting Michigan’s 13th and 14th Congressional Districts, is focusing its efforts on providing homeownership opportunities for at least 500 African Americans and minorities through homeownership education.
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