There’s a shift happening in New York City. The 2020 Census showed a decline of 4.5 percent among the metropolis’s Black population despite the five boroughs seeing overall growth. And while the contributing factors are varied, much of that change can be attributed to the city’s housing market. 

Black homeowner households in New York City have declined by 13 percent over the past 20 years due to unsustainable/predatory mortgage practices and skyrocketing prices. The Big Apple remains one of the most expensive cities in the world. Roughly 67 percent percent of residents rent their dwellings and most spend 30 percent or more of their income to satisfy their housing expenses. As rent has increased in the aftermath of the first COVID-19 wave, many New Yorkers, Black ones, in particular, have felt the pinch. Though homeowners have not been spared from the financial pressures of the pandemic, they have fared better than renters. And of those who own across the five boroughs, only a little more than a quarter are Black.  

Last week the Center for NYC Neighborhoods launched estate planning pilot program “Generation 2 Generation” (G2G) in an effort to support intergenerational Black wealth and address the decline of Black homeownership. The program was created through the Center’s Black Homeownership Project and the pilot is financially backed by JP Morgan Chase.

“For far too long, a legacy of racist housing practices has made it impossible for many Black families in the city to tap into the equity-building, cross-generational benefits of homeownership,” said Christie Peale, CEO and Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “Inheriting a home does not automatically lead to sustained homeownership—systems must be in place to protect it.” 

According to a press release shared with EBONY, over the next two years G2G will educate and engage Black homeowners on the necessity of proactive estate planning, as well as expand the availability of free estate planning services. Program initiatives include working with community-based organizations to provide free of charge instructional workshops on drafting wills and creating trusts and estates, as well as individualized legal consultations for low- and moderate-income households. Additionally, it will help fund nonprofit partners who are already in the estate planning space and help amplify their impact while sharing best practices. 

“A home is a crucial asset for any family to keep and pass down from one generation to the next as a source of wealth building and legacy creation and retention. However, Black homeowners face resounding challenges purchasing a home and retaining it in their family, often due to racist and predatory practices,” said Jeanique Druses, Executive Director of Global Philanthropy at JP Morgan Chase. “By increasing awareness and connecting Black homeowners with valuable resources like estate planning services, we can begin to drive inclusive economic growth and preserve a key source of wealth in New York’s Black communities.”