At the Intersection of Pride and Homeownership Month

As we near the end of June, and the corporate logos with rainbow overlays start to come down, we wanted to highlight an aspect of the LGBTQ+ experience that doesn’t often make the headlines – homeownership.
 
In addition to being Pride Month, June is also National Homeownership Month. For those that have tried, homebuying has been a rocky road for the last couple of years; whether you’ve been an aspiring buyer outbid by out-of-state investors swooping in with cash offers well-above the asking price, or more recently, a lender or realtor struggling with rising interest rates and reluctant buyers.
 
The homebuying process is not easy…full stop. At CIC, we have several programs, including our Down Payment Assistance and Mortgage Credit Certificate programs that aim to make home buying more affordable across Arizona, but there are additional barriers that members of LGBTQ+ community face.
 
According to this Forbes article, about 29% (of 1,538 members of LGBTQ+ community surveyed by Realtor.com) “reported they had experienced discrimination during the homebuying process or suspected they were victims of it.”
 
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was created to protect homebuyers and renters against discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status and disability. However, it did not extend housing protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, excluding millions of Americans who identify as LGBTQ+.
 
The article goes on to explain that to avoid discrimination, many LGBTQ+ homebuyers often gravitate towards more urban areas where they feel safer. However real estate is increasingly unaffordable in city centers, prompting an exodus to the suburbs where they are forced to live in areas where they may feel less protected, under-represented or even un-welcome in order to access affordable housing.

Discrimination can also be much more subtle. In speaking with Mario Zuniga (pictured above), who administers the Mortgage Credit Certificate program at CIC and has gone through the home buying process many times with his husband, he pointed out that many loan applications in Arizona still end by requiring signatures from a “husband and wife”, or ask for gender identification, but only list “male or female.”
 
Mario shared a few suggestions to reduce heteronormativity in the home buying process. First, “take the time to get to know your buyers and let them tell you their story. Don’t make assumptions about the nature of the relationship based on gender, perhaps the buyers are friends or siblings.”
 
Additionally, think about making the language in your applications gender-neutral, with words like applicant, borrower, buyer, etc. If gender or familial relationship is not relevant to the resource you are providing, is it necessary to ask?
 
In conclusion, remember that while the dream of homeownership is baked into the DNA of being American, it can also be a scary and vulnerable process for people who don’t fit into the historically narrow definition of being the model American family. We challenge you to ask yourself “How can I ease the experience and leave assumptions out of the equation?”

On the market for a new home, contact our team to see if our programs can save you money!

A Message From Our BIPOC Loan Committee

Our hearts and sympathies go out to the victims and survivors that were involved in the shooting in Buffalo, NY.  We’ve seen an uptick in racially-motivated shootings since 2021 and feel that now more than ever, is the time to take concrete action to continue to address these issues.

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Tucson Information Technology Alliance

Cybersecurity Skills Training to Underserved Seeking Jobs in Booming Industry

CIC is excited to be a part of the Tucson Information Technology Alliance, a partnership between Tucson-based tech accelerator Go For VerticalTransmosis Corporation, and CIC offering underserved adults in the Tucson area an opportunity to train for high-growth information technology careers. The scholarships are provided thanks to an Economic & Workforce Development Grant awarded to the Tucson Information Technology Skills Alliance by the City of Tucson. 

The Alliance’s intensive information technology training program will be offered to residents of the Tucson area with a focus on the unemployed, underserved, minorities, veterans, and low-wage career changers. 

Using a proprietary virtual training model created by Transmosis, a nationally-recognized cybersecurity workforce developer, the program enables applicants to become rapidly trained in employer-driven information technology skills that can lead to industry certifications and employment. 

“The need for a highly trained, agile and robust technology workforce is evident in Tucson, where talent is often imported into the region rather than focusing on development of the local workforce. Meeting this demand for qualified local IT professionals can change that trend, and is crucial for attracting and keeping businesses with continued job and wage growth,” says Edward Cruz, CEO of Go For Vertical. 

Tucson has witnessed a booming 90 percent growth in technology jobs and a 29 percent growth in tech job wages over the last several years. However, employers continue to struggle to fill the open positions with local qualified candidates, according to Tucson Business Insider

Tucson Information Technology Skills Alliance Partners

Go For Vertical is a Tucson-based technology and venture accelerator with a mission to help the Southern Arizona region develop a robust innovation ecosystem. With a focus on startups, nonprofits and enterprise clients, G4V has grown from a small group based in Tucson to an expanded team of over 100 consultants and engineers based both in the US and overseas delivering global technology and business solutions.  

 Transmosis is a nationally recognized cybersecurity workforce developer that enables American workers to develop new careers in the rapidly growing information security industry. Transmosis is the creator of transmosisONE, a Fortune 5000 cybersecurity platform designed to protect small businesses/SMBs from cyber attack with integrated cyber liability coverage.

Supporting Innovation in Education

Over $600,000 in seed funding will be awarded through A for Arizona’s Expansion and Innovation Fund, including the Pima IDA’s gift, empowering innovative school and community leaders, teachers, and families to implement their bold ideas for reimagining learning models, creating and scaling more student-focused programs, and developing better teaching and learning educational approaches. Applications are being accepted for this grant funding June 3 – July 8 at noon.

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StartupTucson IdeaFunding Award Winners

Idea Funding

IdeaFunding, led by our friends at Startup Tucson & Arizona Commerce Authority, was held on April 15, 2021. It was a day-long digital entrepreneurial experience including Southern Arizona’s largest pitch competition, inspirational community Resiliency Awards, and powerful thought-leaders.

Adelante Award

CIC was honored to sponsor the Adelante Award. An award that supports diverse founders, such as women-owned and BIPOC-owned companies.

Originally intended to be one $5,000 award, CIC was so impressed by two founders’ pitches that we just had to support both! 

Learn more and support these powerhouse entrepreneurs:

Obánj

Obánj is a monthly subscription service that lets you borrow designer and artisan jewelry from designers like Oscar de la Renta and Balenciaga. Depending on your Membership Plan, you can borrow one, two, or three pieces of jewelry per month.

Ku' Panda Skincare

Ku’Panda is a high quality experience with affordable prices. Herbs, Actives and Potent Botanicals hydrate, brighten and treat skin. Our products are kissed by Tucson with wildcrafted herbs sourced by local herbalists. Active ingredients are strategically used to guarantee you results backed by science.

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Loan Success Story -CRU Trucking

“You run into people willing to help you along the way. CIC it has been fantastic, working with you guys. I recommend that when people have that itch to start something, to move forward.
Even though CIC turned me down initially for the first truck/trailer purchase, they were positive, helpful, and guided me so I could qualify six months later with proven financial history. You were such a blessing.” – Chuck Ugalde, Owner

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Kiva Tucson Making an Impact

The rate that entrepreneurs are starting new businesses in the US has been flat for almost 20 years. While there are many factors, lack of access to capital is a barrier that is difficult for many would-be business owners to overcome. This trend of stagnant new business growth is fueled by the reality that a significant portion of the population – women, people of color and rural entrepreneursface significant hurdles finding funding necessary to start and grow a new business.

This is problematic because entrepreneurs – not big businesses – are fueling all new net job creation (Kaufman, Start Us Up).

“Supporting and expanding entrepreneurship increases jobs, innovation, and productivity.” Wendy Guillies, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation. This is going to be crucial for the recovery we face in the wake of the pandemic.

At CIC, we’ve been building platforms to offer more options to entrepreneurs to access capital, in many cases creating the first rung on the capital access ladder for small business owners. 

One such platform we’ve activated in partnership with Growth Partners Arizona and the City of Tucson is Kiva – a community backed lending platform for small business owners, offering 0%, zero fee micro loans from $1,000 – $15,000. Since the launch of Kiva Tucson, 23 local business owners have raised nearly $200,000 in funding to grow and develop their business during one of the toughest times for small business, many of which have been drastically impacted by COVID-19.

Another fascinating statistic that confirms the findings of the Kauffman Foundation, these 23 small businesses have added a total of 44 new jobs since July 2020. 

“Without the loan I was able to raise through Kiva, I would never have been able to further develop my business helping to place nurses in healthcare facilities. I’ve been able to hire 15 healthcare workers who rely on my business to connect them where the need is greatest.” Philemon Prescoss, CEO, 3Twelves.

As a restaurant owner during this time, Gada Ghotmi, owner of Med Cuisine, has known the challenges first hand across many fronts. She and her husband were both hospitalized with COVID-19, but she was determined to build her business back, and with the help of a Kiva loan to provide the funding she needed to restock and hire help, she’s been able to hire 6 people since July 2020. “Kiva was the lifeline we needed. No bank was willing to loan money to a restaurant owner in the middle of the pandemic.”

CIC is committed to continued innovation for entrepreneurs to access the capital needed to build and grow business for the community to accelerate recovery, and ensure the US economy has the fuel it needs to grow sustainably.