One day at the New York hospital where Hill works, a colleague mentioned that an apartment in the building complex where they lived was for sale. The apartment was not far from where Hill was renting in the Bronx, and it had a lot to offer. She appreciated that it was gated, with a security guard on-site. She also liked that there was a public bus stop just outside and a laundromat downstairs. “It felt like a match made in heaven,” Hill says.
To make an offer, Hill needed help getting a mortgage. She met a real estate broker, Marie Blatch, who explained the basics, and connected her with Matthew Delgado, a home-lending advisor at JPMorgan Chase. Blatch and Delgado had a good working relationship, and Blatch knew he would be able to walk Hill through the process.
The prospect of buying a home was exciting to Hill, but also intimidating. She was concerned her work schedule filled with overnight shifts would make it impossible to get the help she needed from financial institutions that held regular business hours. But Delgado told her she could call him anytime, and he gave her his cell phone number. He also introduced her to Chase’s online portal, which she could use to upload the documents she needed to qualify for a loan. After learning that Hill was a first-time buyer, Delgado informed her that she’d be eligible for a grant from Chase, which could be used toward her down payment and closing costs. The whole process turned out to be a cinch.
“When I finally got the key, I was ecstatic,” Hill says. “I was happy. I was emotional. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. It was a mixture of feelings, but more so I was very happy to know that my mom was in a safe place.”
In the end, Hill got the financial security she’d been dreaming of. With the purchase, she even managed to cut her monthly housing costs.
“Being a first-time homeowner makes me feel good. It makes me feel accomplished,” she says. “And for the future, I’m just thinking of retirement. Just knowing that when I retire, I own something. It’s mine.”
The homeownership rate for Hispanic Americans (51 percent) and Black Americans (43 percent) is far behind the rate for white Americans (71 percent), according to the National Association of Realtors. However, one recent study found that by 2040, 70 percent of new first-time homebuyers will be Hispanic. This is because the Hispanic population is much younger than other racial and ethnic groups – meaning that its young people will begin forming families and purchasing homes at a much higher rate than their peers. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t have to face the same structural barriers to home-ownership.
Delgado, a first-generation Dominican American born and raised in Manhattan, is determined to overcome those barriers. Growing up in New York City, he saw the effects of systemic inequities within his community. Today, he knows that owning a home can be one of the most effective ways for people to overcome those barriers. He also knows that the obstacles for prospective homeowners aren’t exclusively financial; they’re also cultural and linguistic and closely linked to one’s zip code.
That reality is especially clear to someone like Delgado who works with customers across the income spectrum in two starkly different neighborhoods. At the northern tip of Manhattan, he works in Washington Heights, a diverse neighborhood with a vibrant Dominican population. There are hilly streets lined with a mix of old row houses and larger apartment complexes, bustling restaurants—and the overwhelming majority of people who live there are renters. In fact, only 10.5 percent of residents in Washington Heights own their homes.
Just six miles away, where Delgado works on the Upper East Side, it’s a different world. The Upper East Side is one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, and the percentage of homeowners there is almost four times as high.
In both neighborhoods, the interiors of the Chase branches look remarkably similar, but the circumstances of the people Delgado meets are vastly different. Many customers in Washington Heights do not speak English as their first language. Delgado had long noticed that people were asking the same questions about homeownership. The majority of them, particularly Spanish speakers, were struggling to get the answers they needed.
“Imagine this,” Delgado says. “You have the means to buy a home, but you may be unfamiliar with the US banking system, and so you need to speak to someone in Spanish. But most people in the bank you walked into speak English. Think about how frustrating that is.”
To address this issue, Delgado started hosting monthly seminars at a Chase branch in Washington Heights in both Spanish and English. When the branch closed for the evening, Delgado and his team would set up folding chairs in the lobby of the bank. Then he would wheel a whiteboard to the front of the room as members of the community filed into the space. Suddenly, the branch would come alive again, turning into part classroom, part community center. The seminars were a chance for Delgado to address people’s concerns and share information about the resources available to them in a language they understood. Attendees would walk out with a sense that home-ownership was attainable and often a much better option than renting.
“With homeownership, you start building equity on day one,” Delgado says. “During my seminars, I almost always talk about the rule of 1,500. If you’ve been renting for five years at $1,500 a month, by the end of that period of time, you’ve given away $90,000.”
Of course, with homeownership, there are upfront costs, such as the down payment and the closing costs, which often disproportionately present barriers for Black, Hispanic, and Latino households. According to recent data from the Federal Reserve, for instance, nearly 30 percent of white families received an inheritance or gift, compared with about 10 percent of Black families, 7 percent of Hispanic families, and 18 percent of families of other races or ethnicities. Without that financial boost, saving for a down payment is difficult,
Increasingly, financial institutions committed to closing the racial wealth gap are finding new ways to provide a leg up. The Chase home-buyer grant, which offers $5,000 to first-time buyers to help cover closing costs and down payments1, is currently available in low- to moderate-income communities and in neighborhoods that are predominantly Black, Hispanic and Latino regardless of income. The grant is part of JPMorgan Chase’s $30 billion Racial Equity Commitment. The commitment includes $8 billion earmarked to increase homeownership among Black, Hispanic, and Latino families.
“The majority of our racial equity commitment is toward lending and helping more people access and afford mortgages,” says Carolina Jannicelli, head of community impact at JPMorgan Chase. “It’s critical to have people like Matthew Delgado, who live and work in the communities we serve, providing local access to resources and information that make banking more accessible.”
“The experience with Matthew was very good,” Alvarez told Re:think in Spanish. “You learn a lot there. Things that I didn’t know. The seminar was really important, really interesting.”
Wilmary Rodriguez, who lives in the Bronx with her husband and their teenaged son, was also able to purchase her first home with help from Delgado.
“I’m the first one in my family to purchase a home,” she says. “It felt wonderful to do that because I know it’s an investment in our future. Growing up around people who were always renting, I never imagined I could own my own place. Neither did my husband, who came to this country from the Dominican Republic 10 years ago.”
In its work to reach racial equity, JPMorgan Chase is building out a team that can help Delgado and his colleagues do more for homebuyers. Chase recently created new community-focused roles, including community home-lending advisors who serve as local ambassadors to build and nurture relationships with residents, community leaders, real estate agents, and non-profit organizations. These advisors are experts in identifying programs, including down payment assistance grants, that make homeownership more affordable.
“In New York City, where more than 50 percent of our population is Black, Hispanic, or Latino, we have home-lending advisors working across the city in communities to meet people’s needs, wherever they are in their homebuying journey,” says Noreen Henriquez, executive director and community impact region lead at JPMorgan Chase.
Of course, major systematic barriers to homeownership remain. Removing them will require much greater public-private collaboration and coordination over time. But as those efforts continue, change is in the hands of people like Delgado, who are working on the ground, family by family, home by home, generation by generation.
“Buying a home is a personal journey for every person, couple and family I work with. I’m with them on their journey, so it gets personal for me, too,” Delgado says. “And I know that every person we help buy a home means building wealth opportunities for families and generations to come.”
To learn more about how JPMorgan Chase is addressing racial equity, visit: https://www.jpmorganchase.com/impact/racialequity.
To learn more about how Chase can help homebuyers, including information on the Chase Homebuyer Grant, visit: https://www.chase.com/personal/mortgage/affordablelending.
For information/educational purposes only: The views expressed in this article may differ from those of other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. Information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but JPMorgan Chase & Co. or its affiliates and/or subsidiaries do not warrant its completeness or accuracy. You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions and consult the appropriate professional(s). Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results.
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