Director of Goverment Affairs, DEI Officer
CBC Mortgage Agency
Every year, thousands of Americans are turned down for mortgages because they don’t have sufficient savings to make a down payment. Many of them are African Americans, who are declined mortgages at twice the rate of white applicants, according to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data.
Everyone knows it’s a problem. But few are working harder on solutions than Tai Christensen, director of government affairs for CBC Mortgage Agency (CBCMA), a Native-American-owned, federally chartered housing finance agency and leading provider of down payment assistance (DPA) for first-time homebuyers.
“Many large lenders and banks are expanding their diversity and inclusion efforts and working to improve access to homeownership for people of color,” Tai says. “However, real change must also come from going into underserved communities and teaching people what it means to be a homeowner and how it can improve not just their life but the lives of future generations.”
That’s exactly what Tai is doing. She serves as the liaison between the Chenoa Fund—CBCMA’s DPA program—and the UHOUSI Initiative, a program aimed at increasing homeownership rates among Black, minority and Millennial communities through counseling and education. Additionally, Tai manages CBCMA’s Kani Urban Indian Housing Initiative, which focuses on increasing homeownership within the Alaska Native and urban American Indian communities.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Tai ensured CBCMA was able to continue its mission by moving its homebuyer workshops to virtual homebuying events. In doing so, the agency actually increased the number of potential homebuyers it was able to help. At in-person workshops, the attendance was capped at between 75 and 100 people, whereas virtual workshops attracted as many as 300 people.
Tai also meets with federal policy makers to expand access to down payment assistance programs in underserved communities. Additionally, as CBCMA’s DEI officer, Tai has helped build an inclusive workforce in which 58% of the company’s employees are women and one quarter are minorities.
Tai has first-hand knowledge of the value and transformative power of homeownership. Her great-great-great-grandfather, who was born enslaved, became one of the first African American homeowners in Hillsboro, North Carolina. The properties he bought were passed on to future generations and some are still owned by Tai’s family today.
“I was fortunate enough to come from a long line of homeowners, so I’ve witnessed how homeownership creates intergenerational wealth,” Tai says. “I want that same experience for all people of color.”