Urban Institute and FHLBank San Francisco Announce New Efforts to Close the Racial Homeownership and Wealth Gaps in America

WASHINGTON, D.C./SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 4, 2021 — The Urban Institute and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco today launched a new research and product development initiative aimed at tackling some of the most persistent challenges to closing the racial gaps in homeownership and wealth-building.

A two-year, $1.5 million collaboration, the Racial Equity Accelerator for Homeownership will develop and incubate innovations in housing finance, including underwriting and financial technology.

"The yawning homeownership gap between Whites and communities of color has only grown and with it, BIPOC communities have missed out on opportunity and wealth accumulation,” said Urban Institute President Sarah Rosen Wartell. "The evidence is clear and the time is ripe for seizing the moment, and every segment of the home lending industry should work together to address long-standing barriers."

FHLBank San Francisco is a cooperative wholesale bank that partners with its member financial institutions to promote homeownership, expand access to affordable housing, and spur economic development. The launch of the Racial Equity Accelerator reflects the Bank’s call-to-action for the industry to rewrite the U.S. home financing process, critically evaluate the systemic barriers that continue to limit people of color from achieving homeownership, and implement tangible solutions that enable and ensure equity in homebuying.

“The numbers are staggering, and unjust,” said Teresa Bryce Bazemore, president and CEO of FHLBank San Francisco. “The rates of Black homeownership, in particular, have plummeted to levels not seen since housing segregation was legal. Our charge is to summon the highest and best thinking and move with urgency in creating solutions that scale and inspire actionable advancements in policy and practice.” In partnership with its members, community organizations, developers, and others, the Bank is investing in multiple new evidence-based initiatives to ultimately close the racial wealth gap in America.

The accelerator will spur mortgage finance research and development in areas that can facilitate and sustain more equitable homeownership, including alternatives to credit scoring models and use of new technologies to overcome historical biases. It will also address student loan debt, which has a disproportionate effect on the Black community, and product structures that can better support homeowners who experience temporary financial hardship. In the process, the initiative will recognize some of the most promising innovators in each of these areas.

“This historic investment comes at a time when we are seeing gaps in homeownership grow, and gains that we’ve made as a nation regress,” said Laurie Goodman, vice president of Urban’s Housing Finance Policy Center. “There are real concrete solutions housing finance can implement to proactively dismantle the racial homeownership gap, and we are very excited to be working on innovative solutions to this critical issue.”


About the Urban Institute

The nonprofit Urban Institute is a leading research organization dedicated to developing evidence-based insights that improve people’s lives and strengthen communities. For 50 years, Urban has been the trusted source for rigorous analysis of complex social and economic issues; strategic advice to policymakers, philanthropists, and practitioners; and new, promising ideas that expand opportunities for all. Our work inspires effective decisions that advance fairness and enhance the well-being of people and places.

About the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco

The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco is a member-driven cooperative helping local lenders in Arizona, California, and Nevada build strong communities, create opportunity, and change lives for the better. The tools and resources we provide to our member financial institutions–commercial banks, credit unions, industrial loan companies, savings institutions, insurance companies, and community development financial institutions–foster homeownership, expand access to quality housing, seed or sustain small businesses, and revitalize whole neighborhoods. Together with our members and other partners, we are making the communities we serve more vibrant and resilient.

Media Contacts:

DeQuendre Neeley-Bertrand, Urban Institute, HFPCPress@urban.org, (202) 261-5958

Mary Long, FHLBank San Francisco, longm@fhlbsf.com, (415) 572-6717