The lack of equity in homeownership is a systemic issue that has existed for generations on Maryland’s Upper Shore, and it will not be solved by housing agencies operating in a siloed manner.
From lack of inventory to gaps in homeownership preparedness and insufficient credit and financing, minority homeownership continues to trail severely in the region. A population’s inability to access affordable homeownership opportunities contribute to growing wealth disparities among the Upper Shore’s various demographic groups as homeownership is the number one way families generate and pass on wealth.
USCDP intends to gain better clarity regarding the region’s housing needs for the underserved through the comprehensive collection of data (see Disparity Data Dashboard) and leading collaborative discussions with housing-related organizations throughout the Upper Shore. A critical component to the initial phase of advancing equity in homeownership will be to tabulate data directly from prospective homebuyers to identify overarching problems associated with homeownership affordability among the region’s underserved.
The resulting process will yield a comprehensive housing report that will better identify and highlight gaps, provide additional data for regional housing agencies to make more informed decisions, and outline an action plan that will greatly increase the ability of the Upper Shore to advance equity in housing.
The USCDP will then have the necessary information in place to continue conceptualizing and launching a Keys for Employees program that aims to provide down payment assistance to prospective homebuyers that lack the capital to make the first crucial step in owning a home and building wealth.
Anecdotally, a disproportionate number of minority businesses operate “underground” on Maryland’s Upper Shore. The underground nature of these businesses results in most operating outside of the liability protections of an LLC, without appropriate levels of insurance, and no approvals from regulatory bodies. Resulting problems are exacerbated by the lack of accounting, bookkeeping, and back-office support. This led to many minority-owned and operated businesses being ineligible for the Payment Protection Program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
USCDP is launching a new program—Minority Entrepreneurship Training Accelerator (META)—to advance equity in small business development among minority-owned and operated businesses. The goal of the program is to officially formulate a number of minority-owned Limited Liability Companies (LLC) on the Upper Shore. Each participating minority business will be paired with a hands-on small business development consultant who will guide them through the official start-up phase. The program also comes with built in back-office support, full branding and marketing development, opportunities to take business management classes, and a micro-grant upon completion of the program.
The vision for META is to spin out fully formed small businesses that have the foundation for growth, contribute to the tax base of the region, and create wealth to stabilize families.
Data readily available at the county level—especially in rural areas like Maryland’s Upper Shore—does not typically breakout racial sub-metrics in a comprehensive enough manner to fully understand community issues and needs. If it does, researchers must reference multiple data sources from a variety of federal and state agencies, private foundations, and university studies.
Organizations attempting to solve complex issues and fill service delivery gaps may not necessarily be directing their dollars and efforts in a way that maximizes their overall investment.
As the number of nonprofit organizations increase to tackle increasingly unique and niche problems, the need for data that can be analyzed by demographic group and is readily accessible in one place, has risen exponentially.
The Disparity Data Dashboard is a project proposed by the USCDP to quantify and raise awareness about the disparities that exist within underserved populations on the Upper Shore.
Upper Shore Community Development Partners aims to contract with Salisbury University-based Eastern Shore Regional GIS Cooperative (ESRGC) to develop an interactive dashboard to provide priority metrics by race and county. This data will be publicly accessible to partners of the USCDP, government officials, nonprofit agencies, and Upper Shore residents.
Data that will be made available include homeownership, median value of home, persons per household, access to broadband, highest educational obtainment, people living with disabilities, median household income, and employer establishments to name a few.