Zero-interest loans for home improvement available for some in Omaha
The program is intended for homeowners in formerly redlined areas of Omaha.
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Surrounded by vacant lots or dilapidated buildings, Davielle Phillips sees parallels in the communities of north Omaha, which is where he lives now, and the southside of Chicago, which is where he’s from.
“Dealing with that growing up, I saw an opportunity to make a difference here in Omaha,” he said.
It’s an opportunity to address redlining — the now illegal, discriminatory practice of deeming certain neighborhoods as a poor financial risk for lenders, which was seen as being based on race.
“What we’re doing at Front Porch is we’re intentionally reinvesting in areas that have been historically disinvested in,” said Maxwell Morgan with Front Porch Investments, the company responsible for a new program called the Greenlining Fund.
In the 1930s, U.S. government surveyors color-coded areas of cities for financial lenders to guide where and to whom to provide financial services to.
Red-coded areas were considered the most “hazardous” neighborhoods for lenders, often associated with Black and brown populations but also other minorities such as immigrants from Asia, southern Europe, Jews, and Catholics.
Yellow-coded areas were considered “declining”; blue “desirable”; and green “best.”
Front Porch Investments’ 0% interest home equity loan pilot program targets homeowners in those red and yellow areas, providing up to 40 zero-interest loans up to $50,000 for home renovations or repairs.
“It’s going to increase the value of people’s homes,” Morgan said. “So whether they want to continue to live there or they want to sell it, it gives them a chance to receive the true value of what their home would’ve been if it weren’t for redlining.”
“We’ll see the community looks better, feels better, is more safe, is more practical,” Phillips said.
This home equity loan fund has a $1 million commitment from Front Porch, but leaders believe the money can go a long way.
“The funds can have a life cycle and they can go back into helping someone else improve their property.”
It also has another $4 million for future Greenlining investments.
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