By Mekialaya White

DENVER (CBS4)– Denver is leveling the playing field when it comes to building generational wealth through homeownership. Last month the city launched a new program to give descendants of people who lived in redlined neighborhoods help with mortgage down payments.

(credit: CBS)

The city has received 28 applications and approved 17 of them. That includes Dontral Starks, a father of five whose family is currently living in a three-bedroom house.

The director of the program said it’s about righting wrongs.

“I am proud of the Metro DPA (Down Payment Assistance) program because it’s going to give me the opportunity to get the down payment for a new house and that will in turn help me to build generational wealth,” said Starks.

“Redlining, in particular, had a really big impact on that because it was racially-based harm,” said Britta Fisher with the Denver Department of Housing Stability.

SECTION: Making Ends Meet

Redlining is defined as a discriminatory practice in which services, like mortgages or insurance, are withheld from potential customers who reside in neighborhoods classified as liabilities for investment. In the U.S. those neighborhoods have a large population of racial and ethnic minorities as well as low-income residents.

The program is available to households earning up to $150,000 with descendants who lived in those redlined neighborhoods from 1938 until 2000.

LINK: MetroDPA

“It’s never too late for reconciliation,” said Mayor Michael Hancock, City of Denver.

“We’re working to ensure race no longer predicts housing outcomes,” Fischer said.

(credit: CBS)

Sparks told CBS4’s Mekialaya White he got information about how to apply from his barber — Supreme Styles Barber on Colfax. He’s now able to put a down payment on his future home.

The grant from the city provides $15,000 to 25,000 to recipients, depending on income, in an effort to right the wrongs ancestors of people like Sparks faced in Denver.

“My grandpa was the reverend at Macedonia Baptist Church on Franklin Street and he marched with MLK. They wouldn’t say it’s because you’re Black — (they’d say) it’s because your loan won’t go through or you won’t qualify,” said Starks.

Though he hasn’t found a home yet, Starks says he appreciates the help.

“It will help me and my family build generational wealth so we don’t have to have a conversation about redlining,” he said.

Mekialaya White