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Monday, January 8, 2024

Former Attorney Launches Fintech Company to Help Black Families With Homeownership Down Payments

Innovative Fintech Down Payment Assistance Platform Partners with Nation’s Largest Black-Owned Bank

George Fatheree

Nationwide — George Fatheree III, a history-making attorney turned social impact entrepreneur, has launched ORO Impact, a social impact fintech company, a revolutionary down payment assistance (DPA) platform that aims to transform homeownership throughout the United States. Fatheree is most notably recognized for securing the 2022 landmark return of the Bruce’s Beach property, an African-American beach resort in Manhattan Beach, California – marking the first time in U.S. history that the government has returned property taken by racially motivated eminent domain.

His newest venture, ORO Impact, is a customizable platform makes it easy for employers to make loans to their employees, which the employees can use to make down payments on homes, and realize the dream of homeownership while providing a high-impact retention incentive for employers.As the 401(k) plan revolutionized retirement savings – offered today to 69% of private sector employees and 92% of government employees – ORO Impact aims to do the same for homeownership.

ORO Impact addresses two national challenges: down payment affordability has put homeownership out of reach for many Americans, and employee tenure is at record lows as employers struggle to attract and retain employees.

“After helping the Bruce family recover its land, I began hearing from African American families all across the country who had lost their property. I was able to see firsthand the tremendous impact that home and property ownership have on a family’s ability to create intergenerational wealth. Homeownership is the path to building wealth for the majority of Americans. But too many are shut out of homeownership, not because they cannot afford the monthly costs of homeownership, but because they cannot afford a meaningful down payment. We started ORO Impact to address this need and help more Americans build wealth through homeownership,” said Fatheree.

According to a recent Zillow housing report, 70% of renters say that the inability to make a down payment is preventing them from becoming homeowners. A recent study by the Urban Institute revealed that 30% of denied loans could be salvaged with down payment assistance. Fatheree estimates that expanding down payment assistance could create 30 million new homeowners and unlock $9 trillion of wealth for Americans over the coming decades.

Strategic Partnership, Liberty Bank and Trust

Via a significant strategic alliance, ORO Impact has partnered with Liberty Bank and Trust, one of the largest Black-owned banks in the country with over $1 billion in assets. Liberty Bank will serve as one of ORO Impact’s preferred lending partners.

“Liberty Bank is proud to partner with ORO Impact in the launch of its innovative platform to help remove down payment affordability as a barrier to homeownership,” said Todd McDonald, President of Liberty Bank.

Helping Employers, Helping Employees

Using ORO Impact’s solution, employers can tailor DPA programs to meet their specific needs, for example by structuring loans as forgivable, repayable, or repayable through a portion of the home’s appreciation. Employers determine the number of DPA loans they budget to award each year, and eligible employees are selected through a lottery, a waitlist, or based on seniority, with potential preference given to employees satisfying certain criteria (i.e., first time homeowners). ORO Impact’s platform efficiently designs and administers the programs, alleviating companies’ internal staffing burdens and enhancing the employee experience. ORO Impact also offers home buyers access to credit repair and other first time home buyer resources.

ORO Impact’s platform can also be used by municipalities to administer their down payment assistance programs.

Addressing Wealth Disparities

Forty-five million households, about 34% of all U.S. households, rent their homes. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median homeowner has $305,000 of wealth, versus about $4,000 for the median renter. Homeownership also reflects racial inequity, with homeownership rates for African American and Latino households lagging the national median by 22% and 15%, respectively. In many parts of the country, African American homeownership rates are lower today than in the 1960s, when housing discrimination based on race was legal.

ORO Impact fills a critical gap. By helping employers extend down payment assistance to employees, employers benefit from lower retention costs, and employees can begin building wealth more quickly. The company’s vision is for employer-sponsored down payment assistance to become as common as other employee benefits.

Technology Partner, HOTB Software Solutions

ORO Impact’s platforms are maintained by its software and technology partner – HOTB Software Solutions, LLC. Founded in 2008, HOTB has distributed more than $8 billion in assistance on behalf of the U.S. Treasury and over 17 state agencies, successfully processing thousands of monthly financial transactions for various homeowner and rental assistance programs.

“Leveraging HOTB’s best-in-class platform for housing assistance payments, we’re able to deliver an easy-to-use and easy-to-customize solution, while providing industry-leading data security and privacy protocols,” said Fatheree.

For more information, visit OroImpact.com

About the Company
ORO Impact is a social impact fintech dedicated to closing the wealth gap by revolutionizing access to home ownership through its down payment assistance platform and providing solutions for employers to improve employee retention.

About the Founder
George Fatheree III is a social impact entrepreneur and history-making attorney. Fatheree currently serves as the founder and CEO of ORO Impact. Fatheree is most notably recognized for securing the landmark return of the Bruce’s Beach property, marking the first time in U.S. history that the government returned property taken by racially motivated eminent domain, and for representing a consortium of nonprofits acquiring the Ebony and Jet magazine photography archives from bankruptcy. Fatheree has been featured in countless media outlets, including the Financial Times, The New York Times, Reuters, and National Geographic. He has received recognition and accolades including The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Residency, the Living Legends Awards for Service to Humanity, and being named a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year. Fatheree serves on the board of Loyola Marymount University and the National Portrait Gallery. A much sought after public speaker, he has keynoted and spoken on panels for BNY Mellon, Boeing, Capital Group, Council of Urban Professionals, the International Association of Human Rights Agencies, JPMorgan Chase, the National Association of Realtors, Universal Music Group, and his alma maters Harvard University and Loyola Marymount University.

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