MILWAUKEE — A record number of families purchased homes in the pandemic through the Wisconsin nonprofit, Acts Housing.
The biggest jump in home ownership was among Black families.
“Last year was really inspiring,” Acts Housing CEO Michael Gosman said.
He said in 2021, the program saw a 67% increase overall in new homeowners. The 305 families is a new record for the 25-year-old organization.
According to Acts Housing, almost half of those first-time owners were Black, something Gosman said the community needs a lot more of.
Another trend the nonprofit noticed was who made up head of household last year.
“That was very interesting to see,” Gosman commented. “Sixty-five percent of the families who purchased homes through our program had a woman head of household and three quarters of families that actually were purchasing distressed homes and fixing them up, were women led. So, just speaks to the strong women we have in our community.”
He pointed out many families are looking for a move-in ready home. For those, the program offers home buyer education and potentially its real estate brokerage services.
When it comes to distressed homes, Acts Housing offers additional services. That includes home rehab coaching.
Gosman explained how it works.
“You are assigned a home rehab coach who is with you from before a project starts until a project is done,” he said. “To help you make sure you can get that home into a decent, safe condition for you and your family.”
Gosman said Acts Housing also has an affiliated nonprofit that lends money to those families.
“Typically banks won’t lend to families with some credit challenges who are purchasing those distressed, often city-owned homes,” he told us.
When everything went online in 2020, Gosman said he expected to see the number of families interested in the program drop.
“What we saw was exactly the opposite,” he shared.
According to Gosman, demand for Acts Housing services went up 200% in that first year of the pandemic.
“I think as families got sick of their apartments, especially if they were homeschooling or if they had the privilege of working from home, they started putting any money they could away and preparing for homeownership,” Gosman explained.
Acts Housing services both Milwaukee and Beloit, making home ownership possible for buyers with income, credit, language and other barriers.