Urban League of Greater Madison President Ruben Anthony Jr. stands outside the organization’s offices before announcing a $5 million program to help boost Black home ownership in economically distressed census tracks in the city. Shamane Mills/WPR
The city of Madison and Urban League of Greater Madison recently announced a $5 million program that will increase Black homeownership in Dane County, Wisconsin. With the new funding, families will be able to buy homes with no down payment and interest-only loans for seven years.
In Dane County, where Madison sits, roughly 6 percent of the population is Black and yet the incarcerated population is around 50 percent Black. Homeownership is critical to reversing the tide because most Americans build wealth through their homes. Black homeownership has always lagged and since the Housing Act of 1968, there’s been virtually no increase in that area. The Urban League in Madison is trying to confront the problem through the purchase and renovation of up to 17 homes in south Madison and other lower income communities. The organization will sell the homes to eligible buyers who earn between $50,000 and $120,000.
In Dane County, Black homeownership sits at 10 percent. The rate statewide is more than twice that number while the national rate is 48 percent. The effort of the Urban League is a start and it also points to the larger need to address the issue of Black homeownership. Policymakers, community leaders and Black families must all take a more serious look at the issue and develop solutions. More than anything, Black people must prioritize buying any and all land available in Black communities.