In 2020, the Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HCHRA) piloted a direct homebuyer assistance program with a goal to reduce homeownership disparities. This pilot helped 20 Hennepin County residents purchase their first home, 85% of whom identified as African American. The pilot was administered by a housing nonprofit.
To complement this program, the HCHRA commissioned a study with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) to better understand the barriers and goals of Hennepin County’s BIPOC residents concerning homeownership. In partnership with Pillsbury United Communities, CURA found the need for a multi-pronged and coordinated approach to reducing barriers to homeownership, including increasing income for BIPOC renters so they can reliably afford homeownership, as well as targeting new strategies to facilitate homeownership for BIPOC renters with incomes above 50% AMI.
Barriers to Homeownership for BIPOC Individuals in Hennepin County (PDF, 1MB)
In 2021, the County Board authorized $46,000,000 in one-time pandemic recovery funding for equitable housing recovery strategies. This includes $3.3 million for homebuyer assistance programs targeting populations disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. With this additional funding, the HRA financed three times more homeownership units in 2022 than in previous years.
Finally, in 2023, the HCHRA launched its first designated fund for homeownership assistance, constituting its largest annual investment in homeownership. The goal of this program is to facilitate homebuying – through capital funding or down payment assistance – for populations disproportionately impacted by systemic barriers to homeownership. The findings from the 2022 study, together with the lessons from the pilot, are the basis for the new homeownership program.