Local partnership aims to help BIPOC community members who want to start a business and buy a house – The Ithaca Voice
ITHACA, NY –– Universal black hands, an Ithaca nonprofit created by Harry O. Smith, and Federal Credit Union Alternatives work together to help black, brown and indigenous people in the Ithaca community who are looking to start their own businesses and buy a home. This is in addition to the many programs and initiatives that Smith has launched as part of Black Hands Universal – an organization aimed at supporting and improving the lives of Black Ithacans – since June 2020.
Smith said the idea for the Start-Up Partnership arose out of the fact that Black Hands Universal, as an organization, was banking with AFCU and had previously worked with them on the home ownership program. the property. AFCU contacted him to see if he would help them find people for this additional program. For Smith, it seemed natural to partner with AFCU in both areas – starting businesses and owning homes.
“Everything I have done has been collaborations with other organizations, community organizations and, for the most part, the community itself has been the greatest help through donations, volunteering,” he said. -he declares.
“I’m a fan of what Harry is trying to get started with Black Hands Universal, me personally but also the credit union. We see a void of opportunity in our community and Harry is someone who is looking for ways to fill that void specifically for the BIPOC community. We’ve been chatting with Harry for a while now to see how best to support him and Black Hands Universal as the work they do is important in our community. This is what we want to do at Alternatives Federal Credit Union, ”said Brendan Wilbur, AFCU Community Programs Manager.
Wilbur said AFCU intends to support those who are underserved and who have not had the same financial investment opportunities. He added that many members of the Tompkins County BIPOC community fall into this category.
For business opportunities, “spending money to earn money” is not always an option for the BIPOC community, as the typical white family has eight times the wealth of a typical black family and five times the wealth of a typical black family. wealth of a typical Hispanic family, according to the 2019 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances.
With commercial help from AFCU, grants will be given to people who earn less than 68K for a household of 1 to 2 people and who have a business idea. Part of this program involves a matching savings account which involves different levels. For example, if you put $ 250 in the savings account, the AFCU will equal that with $ 250 for a total of $ 500 in your account. Schedule a call for more information on BIPOC match savings here.
“We want to help people develop a saving habit,” Wilbur said.
Smith said the match is extremely useful because it gives people more money to be able to open their businesses, money that could have taken them months or years to build up. He especially likes that AFCU guides the individual through the process, he doesn’t just give the money and walk away.
Individuals will receive a free business consultant who will accompany them throughout the process. This assistance can be like assistance in obtaining permits, assistance in purchasing equipment, setting up a vendor booth, etc. Professionals will help people see what to do and then help them get there step by step.
If you are someone who has already started a business but are stuck or need capital to move forward, you can still apply for this program.
“It’s really about trying to meet people where they are to help make their business a reality,” Wilbur said.
Wilbur said AFCU wanted to help BIPOC individuals build wealth and that a crucial part of helping people build wealth is home ownership.
When it comes to the housing program, AFCU and BHU seek to apply some of the same principles as the business loan program – giving BIPOC an opportunity for themselves and their families may have been denied in the past. . This help could make the difference between buying a home or not and passing on generational wealth through assets – something black mortgage seekers haven’t had a chance to do with the same ease as their white counterparts. According to data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 2017, black applicants are denied 1.8 times the rate of white applicants for mortgages and conventional loans (unsecured by the government), black applicants are denied 2 , 2 times the rate of white candidates.
With Homeownership Assistance, eligible individuals will receive $ 20,000 (per family) to help them buy a home. To be eligible, individuals must earn less than 68K per year for a 1-2 person household and purchase a home in Tompkins County. Being able to qualify for a mortgage is also an important part of this process.
You can sign up for a 15 minute introductory phone call here with the AFCU to find out if you are eligible and how to get started.
The $ 20,000 helps with down payments on homes as well as coming up with money for a down payment, another huge hurdle. Research has shown that black families are much less likely to get help from parents when buying a home, such as a down payment, according to the 2019 Federal Reserve Consumer Finances Survey .
“We want to connect with as many people as possible, but this grant will be limited in the number of people we can actually serve and donate money. But we want to make our impact much bigger than the people who receive funds. It’s really, “how do we map the road to asset ownership and wealth accumulation in the BIPOC community?” Wilbur said.
This is why AFCU has partnered with Smith of Black Hands Universal and several other community organizations such as CLOC (Community Leaders of Color), Southside Community Center, GIAC (Greater Ithaca Alliance Center) and BLOC (Business Leaders of Color). Color), among others.
In addition to partnerships with AFCU, Smith has been busy with other community programs. Since he established the non-profit organization, they have organized a Black Men’s March, held community films at the Lehman Alternative Community School, created and distributed free smoothies every morning on the townships during the summer, distributed free masks and disinfectant, donated GED, started a Freedom Institute for the Advancement of the Art, organized a collection of winter coats, cleaned and redesigned the West Village Center, opened a Zoom tutoring for students during the pandemic and established a book club in Tompkins County Jail.
Smith said everything they’ve done so far (throughout a pandemic) has been done safely, either virtually or in person with masks, disinfectant available, and social distancing in square. All of these programs are just a few of what Smith got Black Hands Universal to accomplish without any funding.
“It’s just us, (the money) coming out of our pockets and the people coming to help us,” he said.
Smith is currently raising funds for two different projects. One of them is raising money to buy a walk-in freezer to expand the smoothie program that will give jobs to more teens this summer. You can donate to the freezer fund here.
The other is to create a pre-learning program which is one of the five goals and initiatives of Black Hands Universal. Smith wants to help disenfranchised people access unionized jobs.
“This will allow people to get the paperwork and some of the training they need to enter apprenticeship programs with local unions and Cornell,” Smith said.
You can donate to make this program a reality here.