Southern Bancorp Community Partners, an affiliate of Southern Bancorp, Inc., announced Tuesday (Jan. 23) a down payment assistance program designed to help remove barriers from the home buying process for minority and low-to-moderate income individuals and families.
The “Wealth Builders for Everyone Down Payment Assistance Program” will offer up to $12,000 as a forgivable loan that eligible prospective home buyers may use toward their down payment, prepaids, and closing costs.
“Owning a home is one of the most important ways to build generational wealth and break cycles of poverty, but for too long there have been barriers to entry for Black and Brown families and in underserved communities,” said Kenya Davenport, Interim President of Southern Bancorp Community Partners. “This down payment assistance will support our continued efforts to close these long-standing wealth gaps, creating more accessible and affordable paths to homeownership.”
The down payment assistance program features a zero percent interest rate, zero dollar monthly payment, and staggered loan forgiveness at 20% per year; the loan is fully forgiven at five years if all criteria are met.
The program will also prepare borrowers with HUD-Approved Homebuyer Education.
Southern Bancorp has a physical banking footprint that spans Arkansas and Mississippi, and in 2023 began the expansion of its mortgage division to provide equitable mortgage solutions to more families throughout the entire South.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the homeownership rates for Black and Hispanic households are around 30 points lower than for white households nationally, a demographic discrepancy that is often even wider in underserved communities, particularly in the South.
“Our mission is to be a bridge to financial opportunity, regardless of one’s zip code or financial position,” said Jeremy Davis, Southern Bancorp’s President of Mortgage. “Programs like this represent our ongoing commitment to this mission by helping more people become homeowners in the places we serve, especially those who otherwise may not have access to such opportunities.”