CHT Expands Program to Address Racial Inequities in Access to Homeownership

Champlain Housing Trust announced an expansion of its program that provides a $25,000 forgivable loan to buyers who are Black, Indigenous or people of color and who are buying a permanently affordable home through the trust or its partner agencies across the state. Originally only operating in the northwest part of the state, the Homeownership Equity Program (HEP) Downpayment Assistance will be available through nine partner organizations covering every county of the State.

The program was created with a three-year grant from the New England Federal Credit Union in 2021. The expansion of the program is funded with $1 million set aside from a gift CHT received from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott last fall.

“The nation has a disturbing history of lending and other policies that created a significant homeownership and wealth gap between white and non-white citizens,” said Michael Monte, CHT’s CEO. “Expanding the Homeownership Equity Program statewide by using a part of the gift from MacKenzie Scott is a great opportunity to increase equity and homeownership for people of color across the State.”

Shared equity homeownership offers buyers an opportunity to buy a home at a reduced mortgage amount. In exchange, owners share a portion of the increased value of the home with the new buyer when they sell. In this way, the homes are permanently affordable. HEP Downpayment Assistance offers an additional $25,000 in support for BIPOC buyers.

The new participating agencies cover the whole state. Angie Harbin, of Downstreet Housing and Community Development in central Vermont, expressed her organization’s enthusiasm to add HEP Downpayment Assistance to their suite of programs. “We need more tools like this one to support historically marginalized populations access homeownership. We are looking forward to sharing this new opportunity with our buyers,” she said.

HEP Downpayment Assistance is structured as a forgivable loan and is designed as a Special Purpose Credit Program authorized under the Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Interested buyers should inquire about homeownership and this program with their local agencies.

Since its inception in 2022, 23 buyers have used CHT’s HEP Downpayment program. That amounts to 46% of all of the buyers of CHT homes when the program launched in October, 2022 – a doubling of previous rates since the program’s inception.

Here is a list of participating agencies: