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Brownsville community group makes dream of homeownership a reality

Community group helps with dream of owning a home
Community group helps with dream of owning a home 02:52

BROWNSVILLE - One of the key steps in building wealth is homeownership, but this is one that is still so much harder to attain for people coming from underserved communities of color. That's the goal for a community program aimed at closing this gap.  

"We didn't have things around here that look like this," David Gause, Level One Property Co-President said.  

Gause and his business partner, Vernon Quinn grew up in Brownsville, a historically Black neighborhood.  

"I'd rather glorify the love and the happy moments of us growing up in this neighborhood it actually builds character," Quinn said.

But the community does face some challenges. The median income for Brownsville according to the latest Census Bureau is $30,000, and the poverty rate is at 36%, compared to the county's which is 15.2%.  So, an area in need of uplifting.

"This was an infill lot, we were given those lots for $1,000 to tell you the truth, the county let us buy them, we took them and we built houses on them," Robert Joaquin Wallis, Collective Empowerment Group CEO said.

Through CEG and financing from the Florida Community Loan Fund, they're stepping in for support, to make homeownership possible for some who just need a little support to get there.

"To keep in people in this neighborhood healthy and not leave it to gentrification," Wallis added.

The home being sold in Brownsville this Tuesday is the first of 28 lots the group has been working to develop. 

The new homeowner didn't want to be identified because of the trauma she went through. She lost her son to a drive-by shooting, that set off a chain of events that caused her to lose the home she inherited from her mother, her job, and spiral.  She was eventually able to turn her life around, but home ownership was still far from her grasp until now.  

"She got a subsidy after doing home buyers certification training so we're helping out families learn how to manage money how to balance budgets and be ready to own," Wallis explained.

It's hoped that helping people into a new home will also help build the community up stronger, and preserve the historic area.

"Being a homeowner, it makes someone have a love for a neighborhood, if you have renters in a neighborhood you don't have a lot of compassion but by you having ownership now, you're going to be more concerned," Quinn said.

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