Across the country over the last 40 years, home values have skyrocketed, but household income has failed to keep pace — an effect felt disproportionately in diverse communities like Mt. Airy. In December 2021, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on how this inequity has been exacerbated by the pandemic. It was this story that led Carol Shearon to reach out to Mt. Airy CDC and establish the Mt. Airy First Time Homebuyer Fund.
In the Inquirer story, MACDC Director of Housing Counseling Stephanie Butler illustrated how factors such as a limited credit history will prevent banks from lending to prospective homeowners, a rejection that happens for 29% of Black applicants in Philadelphia, but for only 16% of white applicants. Another tangible barrier arrives up front in the form of closing costs, which amount to roughly 5% of the overall home value.
Guided by her Quaker faith and practices, Carol Shearon has worked since 2016 to raise awareness of and funds for refugees throughout the world. She was moved by the December Inquirer story and identified this new fund as a place she could help locally. “Historically, our country has used redlining and steering to exclude people of color from the housing market,” said Mrs. Shearon. “This is my small attempt to correct this injustice.”
How the Fund Works
Launching on April 5, 2022, the Mt. Airy First Time Homebuyer Fund will work alongside existing first-time homebuyer grant sources. Mrs. Shearon’s multi-year giving commitment will match a portion of each donation to the Fund, which seeks to raise at least $25,000 during its first year. People who have completed MACDC’s first time homebuyer counseling program will be able to apply for funds, and after the application period has closed, funds will be distributed via a lottery to help defray closing costs.
“Homeownership promotes wealth building,” said Stephanie Butler, MACDC Director of Housing Counseling. “It is a keystone for financial and emotional security that greatly impacts the community as a whole.”
Since the 1990s, Mt. Airy CDC’s award-winning housing counseling team has existed to serve homeowners by: assisting first time homebuyers through free workshops and counseling; educating homeowners on resources available for home improvements, as well as budget and credit repair; and helping families facing hardships keep and remain in their homes.
“We are proud to be launching this timely appeal for the Mt. Airy First Time Homebuyer Fund with the generous support of Carol Shearon,” said MACDC Executive Director Philip Dawson. “By reducing the barriers to homeownership, this Fund will strengthen Mt. Airy’s identity as a diverse community of opportunity for all.”