The UHOUSI Initiative has suffered a great loss in the passing of its National Co-Chair, Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr. Bishop Jackson was a tireless advocate for racial reconciliation and social justice. As a Christian he fervently believed that many social issues transcend politics and should be approached from the sense of a “higher calling.” This was his view of the UHOUSI Initiative. He strongly believed that equitable access to home ownership is one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time. For many Americans, he realized that “equitable access” meant the ability to purchase homes in conjunction with down payment assistance.
Bishop Jackson recognized that federal government policies affecting equitable access to home ownership are an objective assessment of how much any administration really cares about the Black community. He expressed strong concerns that Democrats often crafted paternalist policies that fostered dependency and perpetuated poverty in Black communities. He was equally concerned, however, that Blacks had no seat the table at all with Republicans and were therefore not involved in affecting their policies and the impact those policies have on the Black community. Although he was criticized by many for being part of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisors, Bishop Jackson believed strongly that access gave him the opportunity to build relationships and influence outcomes.
As an advisor to President Trump, Bishop Jackson consistently advocated for federal housing policies that would protect and preserve down payment assistance programs such as the Chenoa Fund, the UHOUSI Initiative’s sponsor and one of America’s leading national down payment assistance providers. He recently penned an opinion piece entitled “Homeownership can Help Heal the Racial Divide” in which he acknowledged and discussed the impacts of historical systemic racism on black wealth creation and homeownership and called for the protection and preservation of responsible down payment assistance programs. He hand-delivered a letter to President Trump calling on the administration to suspend the efforts of high-placed bureaucrats to dismantle existing down payment assistance policies that would have potentially restricted or eliminated access to homeownership to thousands of American families. He fought a good fight.
The UHOUSI Initiative will continue to advocate for increased homeownership among African Americans, other minorities and millennials. We will continue to promote and encourage homeownership education and to help people make good housing decisions. Bishop Jackson’s legacy will live on, evidenced by advocates who will continue to fight the bipartisan “good fight” for fair and equitable housing and homeownership policies. More significantly, his legacy will live on through thousands of American families who will achieve the American Dream of homeownership and with it, wealth that will be transferred to generations to come.
-Don F. Harris, Esq.
Senior Advisor, UHOUSI Initiative