Aligning Values and Mission through a Shared Vision
By Suzanne Anarde, RCAC chief executive officer
This quarter I am sharing insight into a significant partnership that RCAC is involved with and a recent Wells Fargo grant award obtained through that partnership. I share this insight because the WORTH (Wealth Opportunities Restored through Homeownership) grant is dedicated to increasing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) homeownership and Mutual Self-Help Housing is a key element in rural homeownership. Some of you may be asked to consider partnering and supporting efforts related to this initiative, and we thought it might be helpful to provide context and background.
Partners for Rural Transformation (PRT)
PRT’s guiding principle: working together, we are a far more powerful force for good through our shared ethos of investing in people and places. Formed in 2018, the Partners for Rural Transformation unified six regional Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) under a shared vision: a nation where persistent poverty no longer exists. These six organizations – cdcb | come dream. come build, Communities Unlimited, Fahe, Oweesta Corporation, HOPE Credit Union and Enterprise Corporation, and Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) – collectively bring 200+ years of advocating for and serving America’s rural residents and communities where poverty has persisted for decades. Funding from national partners is an essential element for reaching our shared vision. Wells Fargo has been a critical investor in PRT and our strategic collaboration to further our mission of eradicating persistent poverty in rural America.
Wells Fargo WORTH Grant
While homeownership rates in persistent poverty areas are primarily in line with national averages, access to quality housing remains a challenge. Access to housing is critical because its absence negatively affects health outcomes, including higher rates of chronic disease, injuries associated with living in an unsafe environment and mental health challenges. Concentrations of poor-quality housing also act as an anchor to housing equity, which bars homeowners from building equity in their most significant asset. Children of homeowners achieve better education outcomes. The benefits of homeownership appear to be particularly strong for low-income homeowners.
At PRT we realize and understand that secure housing is a fundamental right, yet a monumental challenge for many of this country’s most vulnerable populations. We joined forces with Seven Sisters Community Development Group and the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition (SDNHC) to create a strategic solution for upending the boundaries that keep these populations unhoused and unsafe. The Rural WORTH Collaborative is a powerful group of seven CDFIs with a long history of working collectively to serve rural and Native communities of persistent poverty. The Collaborative’s primary target market includes rural and Native communities in 244 persistent poverty counties across 18 states, focusing on Black, Latino/a, and Indigenous populations. Market conditions and barriers include some of the lowest homeownership rates in the country, a lack of affordable, high-quality housing stock, limited lender engagement and disproportionate access to philanthropy. The Collaborative developed a thoughtful and impactful Implementation to overcome these challenges. The Collaborative launched the Transforming Rural Communities Through BIPOC Homeownership project. The members of PRT, in collaboration with the Lakota Fund/SDNHC, are implementing the following theory of change: If we empower local housing practitioners in rural and Native communities with resources, a pathway to the capital markets, and a level playing field in the tribal/state/federal policy arenas, then we can collectively create 5,000 new BIPOC homeowners by December 2025 and initiate significant systemic change to achieve a functioning, inclusive home buying process.
Rural WORTH Collaborative partners believe that the most compelling way to address the challenges faced by persistent poverty BIPOC communities lies within those communities. Interventions that correct disproportionate access to resources and capital will enable communities to design and implement solutions consistent with their cultural context. The Collaborative further plans to transform the landscape of BIPOC homeownership through the following strategies:
- Expand access to affordable homeownership financing options for BIPOC families in Native and rural communities
- Increase and improve affordable housing stock
- Create new homeowners by resolving title issues
- Empower prospective and current homeowners through education, counseling and coaching
- Advocate for innovative policy and systems change
Lakota Funds/SDNHC and PRT’s collective experience built the foundation and the development of the Implementation Plan. We’ve determined how to effectively develop shared goals and coordinate efforts through our work together. The next step will be engaging and collaborating with partners on the ground who have the relationships, credibility and capacity to catalyze this strategy into action. This critical connectivity and leveraging of PRT and SDNHC with grassroot partners are key to systemic change, power paradigm shifts and expanded homeownership opportunities and tools for BIPOC families.
RCAC is proud to be a member of the PRT steering committee. Ironically, I was involved from the beginning in supporting PRT, while I was a Rural LISC, so it is particularly exciting to be in the RCAC role and be hands on in everything PRT. Gina Chamberlain is the WORTH programmatic lead at RCAC, in her role as Single Family Housing Program Manager, in coordination with Dave Ferrier, Housing Director, and the other folks working on single family programs at RCAC. Please do not hesitate to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com for additional information.