OHFA Partners with CONVERGENCE Columbus


During Black History Month, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) celebrates its partnership with CONVERGENCE Columbus.

In 2021, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), OHFA, and The Ohio State University's John Glenn College of Public Affairs created CONVERGENCE Columbus, a cross-sector collective of community leaders, industry professionals, and practitioners solving challenges to Black and minority homeownership.

Currently, there is a 32% gap in homeownership between Black and white residents, which is where CONVERGENCE Columbus comes in. Through its research, CONVERGENCE Columbus identified lack of information, trust, resources, and housing supply shortages as barriers to closing homeownership gaps and increasing access to wealth for minority communities. To overcome the issues, CONVERGENCE Columbus formed five workgroups to create and implement pilot programs:

  1. Education & Outreach inspires consumers to consider homeownership.
  2. Products & Programs facilitates homeownership gains.
  3. Preservation & Sustainability prevents homeownership losses.
  4. Housing Supply facilitates the creation of new single-family and small multifamily homes.
  5. Research & Evaluation evaluates the overall progress and success of the initiative.

Bloom614 is CONVERGENCE Columbus' overall initiative (and website) that communicates available programs and services to potential homebuyers. Current programs include the Homebuyer Readiness Program and The Maude Hill Growing Homeownership Fund.

The Homebuyer Readiness Program takes credit counseling to the next level. People who are not quite ready for a mortgage in Franklin County can receive housing counseling, including expert one-on-one coaching, digital credit monitoring and repair tools, homebuyer programs navigators, a customized first-time buyer strategy, and mortgage loan negotiation advice, for free from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-certified housing counselors at Homeport, Homes on the Hill, or the Columbus Urban League.

CONVERGENCE Columbus created The Maude Hill Growing Homeownership Fund that Homeport administers. The program provides qualifying participants with targeted down payment assistance, comprehensive housing counseling, and wraparound support for sustainable homeownership. There are no credit scores or debt-to-income requirements, and assistance is forgiven after three years of qualifying owner-occupancy. The Growing Homeownership Fund is also stackable with other programs, such as those OHFA offers for first-time homebuyers. CONVERGENCE Columbus launched the Growing Homeownership Fund on February 1, 2024, and by February 2, 2024, the first participants closed on their first home.

In support of diversity, equity, and inclusion in affordable housing, OHFA is dedicated to increasing minority homeownership through partnerships with organizations, such as CONVERGENCE Columbus.

For more information on CONVERGENCE Columbus' homeownership programs, visit Bloom614.

If you are an affordable housing professional who would like to collaborate with CONVERGENCE Columbus, contact Director of Community Partnerships Anna Teye-Kasongo at anna@ahaco.org or 614.992.2711.

For more information on OHFA's programs for first-time homebuyers, visit myohiohome.org.