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Florida Housing Coalition Announces Major New Initiative: Center for Racial Equity

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb. 24, 2021 -- The Florida Housing Coalition, the state's leading nonprofit provider of training and technical assistance dedicated to affordable housing from ending homelessness to first-time homeownership, today announced the creation of new Center for Racial Equity:

The Florida Housing Coalition Center for Racial Equity will serve as a composite platform for the Coalition's efforts focused on race and equity in public and private investments, regulations, and legal and policy frameworks that shape Florida's neighborhoods, cities, and regions.

"We know two things: Florida—like every other state in the nation—has a housing problem intricately linked with race; and Florida's cities often look to the Coalition to help them solve housing problems," Coalition's President and CEO Jaimie Ross said. "What is the right approach for local communities to take? There are no obvious benchmarks and little to no statewide policy guidance to indicate a single working approach. This is how the Coalition can help," she added.

The idea for the Center came from discussions among Coalition staff in response to the protests for Black Lives Matter that occurred nationally throughout 2020. "Each of us felt a need to respond to the urgency of the moment in a way that was thoughtful and deliberate and that would move the dial long term," Coalition Chief Programs Officer Ashon Nesbitt said.

Closing the Racial Disparity Gap in Homeownership
Central to its early efforts is the seminal program Closing the Gap – a matching grant program for municipalities. With funding in place from major underwriters Bank of America and Wells Fargo, the program provides a 3:1 match in technical assistance and resources to close the gap in the homeownership rate between Black and white households.

"Bank of America is helping advance racial equality and economic opportunity, with a particular focus on helping create opportunity for people and communities of color," said Gene Schaefer, Miami market president for Bank of America. "We are committed to helping multicultural families and communities begin to build personal wealth and family legacy through the power of homeownership."

The Florida Housing Coalition Center for Racial Equity is being launched with funding by the Wells Fargo Foundation, which is focused on advancing racial equity and creating pathways to safe, affordable homes.

"Having a safe and affordable place to call home is essential to help lay the foundation for wellness, dignity, and economic opportunity," said Eileen Fitzgerald, head of housing affordability philanthropy with Wells Fargo. "With our support for the Coalition's Center for Racial Equity, we hope to inspire meaningful change to a long history of systemic inequality, injustice, loss of wealth, and housing instability experienced by people of color, particularly during times of economic distress.  We aim to build a more inclusive, sustainable future where everyone can have a quality and affordable place to call home."

Other Programs the Center is launching with include:

Leading with Equity Online Course
Funders Collaborative & Allies
Glossary of Shared Language
HBCU Internship Program

SOURCE Florida Housing Coalition

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