My Home Pathway: Increasing Access to Homeownership

Every year, two million Americans are denied mortgage loan applications. Those rejection rates are disproportionately higher for minority communities and millennials. The homeownership rate clocks in at nearly 74% for white populations, but only 44% of black households own their homes. Today, millennials are significantly less likely to be homeowners than baby boomers and Gen Xers.

Author

Antler US portfolio company My Home Pathway was built to address this divide by supporting first-time home buyers with tools, education, and guidance that position them for mortgage approval and homeownership. Last week, My Home Pathway launched its iPhone and Android apps nationwide with First Republic Bank as its premier marketing launch partner.

Image and Quote of Castleigh Johnson founder and CEO of My Home Pathway

Castleigh Johnson, My Home Pathway's founder andCEO, spent over fifteen years working in finance, for both private institutions and government regulatory agencies. After his tenure at financial titans like the Federal Reserve, AIG, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of Montreal, andErnst & Young, Castleigh was ready to build a solution to tackle the inequity that exists around home acquisition.

Caroline Healey, Recruitment Manager at AntlerUS, sat down with Castleigh to discuss his own personal path to becoming a founder, as well as his vision for My Home Pathway's future, and his grounded optimism for our generation.

Let's start at the beginning: tell me about how your background led to an interest in personal finance and homeownership.

I've spent over fifteen years in finance - both in the private sector and on the government regulatory side. After getting my MBA at NYU Stern in 2008, I went to work for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. So I was with the Fed during the height of the 2008- 2009 financial crisis, and I witnessed the disparate impact of the housing crash on underserved communities. The hard truth is that a lot of minority communities have not recovered from that crisis in terms of asset appreciation and access to financial inclusion.

And, on a personal level, I've experienced the impact of the financial literacy gap firsthand. Out of college, I made a few missteps navigating my own personal finances. Not out of irresponsibility, but because I simply didn't understand how my credit scores would impact my financial life.

There are millions of Americans that do not understand how the personal finance game works. That lack of knowledge shouldn't deny them access to financial services because they just have never been provided with the right guidance and support to improve their knowledge and decision-making.

Image of phone displaying the My Home Pathway app and new homeowners holding keys in front of house

Why did you leave a successful career in finance to start My Home Pathway?

Over the course of my career, I've watched the wealth gap continue to widen, particularly for underserved communities and millennials. For those coming to the table with record-high amounts of student loans and credit card debt, securing a mortgage loan has become almost insurmountable.

Very few people receive a strong education in financial literacy. I see so many today delaying dreams of homeownership because they lack the tools or belief that they'll be able to work their way out of debt. Emotionally debt is draining; there's a stigma - and hopelessness - attached to it. And a denied mortgage application compounds those negative feelings.

The reality is not everyone enters adulthood on an equal financial playing field. But I believe that - regardless of your starting point - homeownership must be possible; it's how generations build wealth and provide a better future for their families. It's a crucial step forward in creating a stable financial future.  

No matter where you start, with the tools of financial literacy and guidance, you can be a homeowner. That's why I designed My Home Pathway: to help our customers improve their financial health and navigate the mortgage loan process, with support along the journey. We are levelling the playing field and providing access to millions of potential new homeowners with good lending partners as a way to reach these underserved consumers. Aligning better consumers and better lenders begets positive change and profits at the same time.

Image of My Home Pathway App on phone and young couple sitting smiling on the floor of their home

Do you think increased access to homeownership can help close the racial and economic divide in the US?

It's undeniable that a huge gap exists when it comes to the relationship between financial education within minority communities, banking, and homeownership. The mortgage denial rate for Black and Hispanic individuals is 20.9% and 15%, respectively. Today more than ever we are recognizing that many of our systems are not equitable but the time for talk and reports has passed.

Purchasing a home is the largest asset of wealth and source of equity for Americans and is the main vehicle for building generational wealth. Increasing access to homeownership for underserved communities is the best way forward in helping America repair its racial and economic divide. Empowerment leads to opportunity, which improves local and national economies.

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