DC churches create access to homeownership among Black residents

This report is part of WTOP’s coverage of Black History Month. Read more stories on WTOP.com here.

A group of D.C. churches is breaking down barriers to homeownership within the Black community by providing residents with resources that will help close the wealth gap across the city.

The Washington Interfaith Network, an alliance of 50 D.C. churches, has launched the Building Black Equity and Wealth Through Homeownership initiative.

The program is pursuing access to public land and government funding, while educating potential homeowners. So far, the Interfaith Network has placed 176 families into homes over the past decade, a mission that is creating stability and reducing violence.

Celeste Bryant, the co-chair of the latest initiative, is working alongside Rev. William Lamar, of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, to provide these resources to more residents who are being affected by the rising cost of housing.

“The need in the District is not unlike the need nationwide,” Bryant said. “What’s important is that we look at what we can achieve with this program and begin to chip away quite systemically.”

The network recently began holding focus groups to better address the needs of the community.

Imani Hutchinson, a graduate student studying housing disparities at Howard University, is helping to organize this effort but said she never saw herself as a homeowner until her involvement with Bryant.

“I have not even thought about purchasing a house,” Hutchinson said. “This program would allow us in the community to leverage more power.”

For Bryant, the goal now is to listen to the needs of the community while providing workshops about the homebuying process in order to create meaningful access alongside lasting change.

“Equity has a very significant role in helping people survive,” Bryant said.

The next listening session will take place on March 20. Learn more at Washington Interfaith Network’s website.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up