In August 2020, we launched an initiative called Redfin Rise to build a path to homeownership for working-class families. It’s an extension of our mission to redefine real estate in the consumer’s favor, broadening the scope of who has a fair shot at homeownership. Through Redfin Rise, Redfin employees have donated a total of $1,524,819 to four housing nonprofits that are helping people buy their first home or stay in their homes. In its first year, Redfin Rise funds have contributed to the construction of 32 new affordable homes in King County, Washington; helped facilitate homeownership counseling for over 2,200 low-income families across Chicago and Philadelphia; and provided $155,000 in down payment assistance grants to 47 first-time homebuyers in Chicago. We’re just getting started, and this year we’re making it even easier for our employees to support Redfin Rise by offering the option to have donations automatically deducted from their paychecks.
These nonprofits spend time helping people understand how to improve their credit score, access down payment assistance, save money, and work with real estate agents and lenders to buy their first homes. Some of them also build new affordable housing or rehab existing affordable homes. Many of the people these nonprofits serve are the first in their family to ever own a home and some are formerly unhoused.
In addition to the impact Redfin’s dollars are making through our partners’ work, we launched a first-time homebuyer guide in November 2020 to help educate people on how to make their homeownership dream a reality. The guide is available in both English and Spanish, and it includes information about down payment assistance programs across the U.S. If you or someone you know is planning to purchase their first home, it’s a great resource chock-full of everything you need to know about the homebuying process.
It Takes a Village: Choosing Our Redfin Rise Beneficiaries
Before I introduce you to our incredible partners, I should explain how we chose them. In August 2020, we asked Redfin employees to nominate housing organizations to be beneficiaries of Redfin Rise.
We were looking for organizations that make an impact. Anyone can spend money; these programs needed to increase the rate of homeownership for the people they serve. We also wanted partners that serve buyers who have historically struggled to buy homes—namely Black, Latinx, veteran, and working-class people. And, we didn’t want all of our partners to be clustered in one region.
Throughout the fall of 2020, a committee of Redfin employees narrowed a list of 26 nominees down to five finalists. After conducting interviews with those finalists, we selected three organizations to join us as our first-ever Redfin Rise partners.
Introducing Our Inaugural Partners: Clarifi, Homestead Community Land Trust, and NHS Chicago
With donations from Redfin employees, our initial three Redfin Rise partners have made big strides in helping more Americans achieve their dreams of homeownership.
Serving Greater Philadelphia, Clarifi provides housing and financial counseling to first-time buyers and homeowners facing foreclosure and eviction. Ninety percent of Clarifi’s clients earn 80% or less of area median income and 70% identify as people of color.
Over the past year, Clarifi has used Redfin’s donations to support pre-purchase homeownership counseling for 783 families. In 2021, 13% (105) of those families went on to purchase homes. The agency also counseled 390 families at risk for housing delinquency.
Homestead makes homeownership possible for low-income King County, Washington families. The trust makes homes permanently affordable through agreements with members and collective ownership of land. Members earn less than 80% of area median income and 65% are minority households.
In 2021, Redfin’s donations to Homestead contributed to the construction of 22 new affordable homes in Renton and Seattle and to supporting 22 first-time homebuyers in purchasing homes. Homestead also used Redfin funds to support the development of 10 new homes in Seattle’s Central District—which are actively under construction—and it completed pre-development on two new condo projects in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood as well as 11 new homes in Tukwila, WA.
NHS offers a wide range of homeownership programs to Chicago residents, including educational workshops, counseling, loans, and foreclosure prevention. Of NHS’s first-time homebuyers, almost 60% are women, and 93% identify as Black or Latinx.
In 2021, NHS put Redfin’s dollars to work by providing $155,000 in down payment assistance grants to 47 first-time homebuyers. Redfin funds also contributed to NHS’s programs that provide home accessibility repairs for seniors and people with disabilities as well as its homebuyer education classes that reached 1,054 people last year.
Next: New Partners, International Reach
In 2022, we will choose three new organizations to join Clarifi, Homestead Community Land Trust, and NHS Chicago in Redfin Rise. In fact, we’ve already selected the first one: New Story, a nonprofit tackling global homelessness.
New Story will expand the impact of Redfin Rise beyond the U.S. through its work to house people in Bolivia, El Salvador, Haiti, and Mexico. With a goal to house 1 million people by 2030, New Story builds communities of affordable 3D printed homes and makes them accessible with a micro-mortgage model to build equity and ownership.
Later this year, we plan to add two more nonprofits to the program: one serving homebuyers in California and the other in Texas.
In 2022, we will also work with our partners to find volunteer opportunities for Redfin employees and invite our customers to support these groups too.
Thank You, Anne Jones!
While many Redfin employees joined forces to bring this initiative to life, I want to give a special shout-out to Redfin’s director of product marketing Anne Jones who spearheaded the creation of Redfin Rise. Starting from scratch, she led a huge effort to design a rigorous selection process that introduced us to our amazing partners.
Everyone Deserves a Fair Shot at Owning a Home
I’m proud of the company for coming together to support Redfin Rise. The U.S. continues to grapple with the impacts of racist housing policies like redlining and racial covenants, which despite having been illegal for decades, still contribute to homeownership and wealth gaps between Black and white Americans. It’s on all of us in the real estate industry to do our part in helping to level the playing field for people who have traditionally been shut out of homeownership. Through Redfin Rise, I think we’ll make a difference for many families.
I will continue to share updates on the impact these organizations make and the people they serve—stay tuned for more in the future. In the meantime, to learn more about our partners or to make a donation to support their work, visit https://www.redfin.com/rise.