Skip navigation

Advancing Black homeownership with the Urban League of San Diego 

July 12, 2023 | Financial inclusion

Kynedi Verrett, a graduate student, was working to pay rent and large amounts of student loan debt when Jon Mikhail, a mortgage banker at one of our Southern California branches, introduced him to the San Diego Black Homebuyers Program (SDBHP). In a few months, Kynedi’s future completely changed. Instead of coping with rising rents and a long climb out of student loan debt, he is now a homeowner making real financial progress.  

Homeownership is one of the most powerful tools for helping individuals build wealth in the U.S. However, it was historically restricted for Black and low-income communities due to systemic racism and the legacy of redlining and other anti-Black policies. To help overcome this historic disparity, BMO is supporting the San Diego Black Homebuyers Program. The program, led by the San Diego Foundation, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) San Diego, and the Urban League of San Diego County partners with BMO to provide opportunities for Black, low-income first-time homeowners to buy a home and build wealth.  

The grant provides $40,000 to cover down payments, escrow and other costs that come with buying a home. Thanks to the program, Kynedi was able to secure a 30-year mortgage while only paying $2,000 out of pocket, less than a month’s rent for his former residence. 

“I was paying $3,000 a month to live off campus and have a single room. Now, I live with the same roommates, but I’m getting paid rent, and I own the real estate. This program provided lifesaving financial help, and Jon helped me through the process. Additionally, it changes the trajectory of the community for the better. Racist segregation practices like redlining have impacted communities for decades. This program removes roadblocks for vulnerable populations and gives them the opportunity to pursue the American Dream.”  

– Kynedi Verrett 

Jon also has his own personal connection to the power of homeownership.  

“I grew up poor. When I graduated college, I didn’t think I’d get a chance to own real estate. I’ve been there, I know what it’s like to feel like you can’t buy a home, but by building my financial literacy and using the banking tools available to me, I’ve been able to transform my own life, and I love doing that for others.”  

– Jon Mikhail 

Another positive impact of the program is improved stability within communities that now have more homeowners. That impact is very intentional, according to Ricardo Flores, Executive Director at LISC San Diego. 

“We are taking people that were struggling to get by and figure it out, and now they’re planning and building on their wealth, which is only improving our community. They can plan for the future of their families, which allows them to consume and grow our economy. Most importantly, they can consume large products like education or healthcare, things that really move our economy.” 

– Ricardo Flores, Executive Director, LISC San Diego 

Homeownership is an exceptional, multifaceted tool for building wealth. Communities and families with more homeowners are more prosperous. Kynedi is hoping to pass down his house to his grandchildren, but he also hopes that his story becomes the norm in his community – and that more opportunities become available to help build wealth for future generations.

Related Insights