CSEM partners with almost 20 organizations in research and engagement that encourage upward economic mobility in Forsyth County, North Carolina. They include a group of East Winston students, a new breed of think-tank based in our nation’s capital, and everything in between. The shared commitment lies in restoring the broken rungs of the economic ladder for the bottom 20 percent through top-notch research and community engagement.
A list of our partners is at the bottom of this page.
CSEM, Forsyth County united in win-win study of homeownership program
Since January of 2020, the Center for the Study of Economic Mobility and Forsyth County’s Department of Community and Economic Development have been studying the county’s Homeownership Program, which promotes homeownership among low- to moderate- income residents by subsidizing down payments for qualified homebuyers, mainly first-time ones.
Federal funding for the program is administered through government organizations. Participants put about $1,000 each of their own money toward down-payments. The program comes under the Forsyth County Community and Economic Development Department.
Dan Kornelis, the department director, welcomes the study. “Forsyth County, with its many partners, has provided down- payment assistance to over eight hundred households over the last twenty years, especially in the last decade through our loan officer for the program, Bianca Green,” he said. “Over the years, the county captured an abundance of data regarding the demographics of these homebuyers and partnered with CSEM to analyze this trove of data to gain a better understanding of how these families have been impacted by their home purchase. “
Richardson said the fact that Kornelis opened the program’s files to CSEM speaks volumes about his leadership of the program and his willingness to evaluate and enhance it.
The venture is a win-win for the county and CSEM: The county gets a professional, in-depth study of its program at no charge, and the center gets a unique opportunity to study a program that deals with a bedrock of economic mobility: homeownership.
CSEM’s ongoing research includes the following eyebrow-raising findings:
- For every $1 spent in government dollars assisting these homeowners through this program, they accumulated $9.56 in net worth.
- The average accumulated equity for the 508 participants in CSEM’s study sample is $34,289 after an average of 9 years in the program, or $3,810 in net wealth accumulated per year.
- Those 508 participants have also paid $6,225,641 in property taxes since acquiring their homes.
CSEM is producing a documentary film on the program, The Forgotten Notebooks, which highlights the achievements and is aimed at informing other counties nationwide of the program’s successes. CSEM Director Craig Richardson said, “The lessons learned from this program could potentially transfer to other counties and cities grappling with the same types of economic mobility challenges. They are found in a broad swath across the American South.”
As of 2018, more than 800 participants had been through the program. In interviews with CSEM, participants credit the program with increasing their economic mobility. Instead of throwing money away on rent, Devvon Mack of Rural Hall said, she is now investing it in her home and building equity wealth. “I just feel like I can do anything, buying real estate or investing,” she said. “It’s made me confident in myself.”
The program has given her and other participants a well-earned jumpstart to the middle-class.
To learn more about the program, click on AHOP_HOME.pdf (forsyth.nc.us)
Out of state:
Community Engagement Partners
- Tate Consulting (The Ne3w Academy and the Entrepreneurial Playbook)
- Project M.O.O.R.E.
- Boston-Thurmond Community Engagement Roundtable | Boston Thurmond United
- Royal Curtain Drama Guild
- Island CultureZ
Community Engagement Collaboratives
- WS Rise
- Our Place, Our Space
- My Brother’s/Sister’s Keeper