By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – A history of discrimination in Colorado has prevented Black families from buying homes and passing down generational wealth. A new program hopes to close the racial wealth gap by helping Black home seekers achieve the dream of ownership.

The Dearfield Fund with Gary Community Ventures allows first-time Black homebuyers in the Denver metro area to utilize up to $40,000 in downpayment assistance.

“Addressing this racial wealth gap requires us to dismantle the structural inequities that have been imposed upon Black communities, especially when it comes to ownership and asset building. The Dearfield Fund is part of a movement to create restorative capital tools that can help Black families build wealth and achieve financial mobility,” said Santhosh Ramdoss, Vice President of Impact Investing at Gary Community.

April Denmon, founder of Denmon Reality, has helped hundreds of Black families around Denver become homeowners. It’s something she takes pride in, professionally and personally.

“There was a time when Black families could not cross over Colorado Boulevard,” said Denmon. “They still have to jump through more hoops and hurdles than other buyers. Once we get to that finish line, and they have the key, they realize how important home ownership is. They are now able to pass a legacy down to their children.”

SECTION: Making Ends Meet

Denmon closed over 100 homes in the Denver Metro area last year and she says 75 percent of those clients are Black. She’s found success closing homes in Commerce City, Thornton, Green Valley Ranch and Aurora.

In this market, buying a home in Denver proper is tough.

It’s even harder when you don’t have other sources of cash to compete.

“It’s absolutely more difficult for people that don’t come from generational wealth,” said Denmon. “Some of my clients get a gift from their family of $20,000 or $15,000. Sometimes people can’t even get $500 from their family.”

In the last two months, Denmon has lost nine buyers. They were all Black.

Interest rates are rising and she says many of her clients can’t get approved. Some are now renting and others have decided to move out of state.

“I am dedicated to helping the community know that home ownership is possible. It comes down to education,” said Denmon. “It’s a great feeling to be in a position to help put people in homes and break barriers that have been holding people down for many years.”

Denmon recently helped Amie Williams close on her first home in Denver’s Central Park neighborhood. Williams, her husband, and their children lived with relatives in order to save money to buy a house. It’s been a long journey, but they recently closed thanks to support of the Dearfield Fund.

“We saved but there’s just not that kind of money sitting around. I mean, for goodness sake, we have three children as well. And with inflation? There’s just no way that much money is being set aside,” said Williams.

Qualified applicants for the Dearfield Fund can access no-interest down payment assistance used toward the purchase of a home. It allowed Williams’ family to rejoin the competitive race for a home.

“Dearfield provided the opportunity to increase that buying power,” said Williams. “Dearfield is providing the opportunity for individuals like myself to be able to put down more so the monthly payment is affordable.”

Williams grew up in Colorado.

With Dearfield’s assistance, now she has a home so her kids can build roots here, too.

“I don’t want my kids to go through this. It was a roller coaster. Your hopes are high and then you’re shot back down. When it finally happens, it’s unreal,” said Williams. “We’re just excited to finally have a place to call our own.”

The Dearfield Fund has helped over 40 families like the Williams.

To be eligible, Black first-time homebuyers must plan to buy in the Denver metro area, have a family income of $140,000 or less per year and receive a conventional mortgage loan through participating lenders.

FirstBank is the anchor mortgage lender for the program. The Dearfield Fund is actively expanding partnerships with other mortgage lenders.

LINK: dearfieldfund.com

Tori Mason