Social Justice Through Capital + Expertise
City First Homes helps low to moderate-income households access affordable homeownership assistance in the District of Columbia. CFH counteracts the effects of historic economic disinvestment in black and brown communities and provides the necessary capital to level the playing field for communities that have been priced out of the D.C. housing market.
We envision more vibrant, just, resilient neighborhoods with higher employment, greater self-sufficiency, and equitable access to services and opportunity.
CFH’s expertise, capital, and creativity are changing the future for African-American/Black and Hispanic/Latinx communities in D.C.
As a wholly-owned subsidiary of City First Enterprises, we have the capacity and relationships to innovate and successfully address the homeownership gap.
Background + Timeline
Community development leaders came together to discuss how to rectify the damage that years of discrimination, disinvestment, and redlining had done to people and communities of color in D.C. As a result, a consensus emerged to create City First Enterprises (CFE), a nonprofit financial institution aimed at reinvigorating the neighborhoods in which residents were still dealing with the fallout (now expanded to the D.C. and Baltimore metropolitan areas).
CFE’s founders established City First Bank, D.C’.s first community development bank. The bank has since merged with Southern California-based Broadway Federal to create the publicly traded City First Broadway (NASDAQ: BYFC), the largest Black-led Minority Depository Institution in the United States. The bank’s lending primarily focuses on low- and moderate-income areas for investment, and CFE often co-lends with the bank, underwriting the more risky, subordinate debt.
CFE’s ownership of CFB shares renders CFE a bank holding company, yet CFE and CFB are independent entities with their own boards, lending policies, and staff. Additionally, CFE is one of more than 500 nonprofit Community Development Financial Institutions nationally, a designation given by the U.S. Treasury to entities that expand economic opportunity in low-income communities by providing access to financial products and services for local residents and businesses.
CFE launched City First Homes (CFH), a subsidiary CDFI, to help address the rapid displacement of low- and moderate-income families living in D.C.
In 2006, City First Enterprises developed and submitted a plan to the D.C. Government to address housing affordability and rising gentrification. The plan was incorporated into the D.C. government’s Workforce Housing Act of 2006. In December of 2007, the city government awarded City First Enterprises with the funding to create City First Homes.
The City First Homes program grew to include stewardship services provided to Limited Equity Cooperatives, cooperative share loans, and shared appreciation second trust mortgages.
CFH began full operations in the local community and during the height of the foreclosure crisis, CFH purchased four homes in North East Washington, D.C., and one unit in North West. The properties were at the time bank-owned. CFH purchased, rehabilitated, and resold each property to borrowers under 120% of Area Median Income. Each property was secured with a covenant and a deed of trust and sold at an affordable price. All of these homeowners still reside in their properties today.
CFH created the Legacy Shared Appreciation Program to create homeownership opportunities for low to moderate-income buyers purchasing properties in the District of Columbia. The program included second trust mortgages repayable at the time of sale at 0% interest. The program featured a shared appreciation component that enabled CFH to reinvest in the properties when the homes were resold to maintain the affordability for the next buyer. Through the Legacy Shared Appreciation Program CFH assisted over 100 homeowners.
CFH identified the vital role of Limited Equity Cooperatives in affordable housing in the District; CFH developed the Co-operative Share Loan program which assisted eight homeowners with share loans to purchase units in their cooperatives. It is traditionally challenging for borrowers to find lenders who will finance the purchase of cooperative shares as the amount financed is typically smaller than a traditional mortgage. This much-needed financing helped low to moderate-income individuals own their units and provided affordable repayment terms to increase homeownership options for borrowers.
To combat the rapid gentrification of areas east of the river in Anacostia, community residents came together to create an advisory committee to explore the possibility of creating a community land trust. CFH partnered with 11th Street Bridge Park and community members to secure funding to create what would eventually become the Douglass Community Land Trust (DCLT). CFH and its parent organization City First Enterprises incubated the DCLT until its launch in April 2019.
City First Homes staff began the process of ending our Shared Appreciation mortgage program. The program began in 2012 and helped over 100 homeowners at or below 120% area median income (AMI) secure affordable homes in the District of Columbia. CFH notified borrowers of the program changes and worked with our homeowners to address questions. CFH recommitted our continued dedication to the mission of promoting affordable homeownership in the District. Staff began researching new ways to help borrowers achieve affordable homeownership.
City First Homes began the design and implementation of a new down payment assistance program in 2021. That program became what is now Homes by CFE. Homes by CFE is an innovative Special Purpose Credit Program designed to assist Black and Latinx borrowers with access to affordable down payment and closing cost assistance. Homes by CFE continues to build on City First Homes’s legacy of promoting homeownership in the District.