I write to share the story of how I became a homeowner in Culver City. I tell it because it speaks to one way we can build a more inclusive Culver City: build more 6-plexes so we can have homeownership opportunities that cost less than $1 million. If we do that, we lessen the need for generational wealth.
The short version of my story is I was privileged to have in-laws who had enough equity in their home to give my husband and I the extra $80,000 we needed to prove we could afford our loan for a 40 year-old condo. They are white and relied on their family to help them get their current home. My parents, who are not white, were in no position to even lend us tens of thousands of dollars.
If we didn’t have that kind of generational wealth to rely on, we would have waited another five years at least to save up the entire amount. We would have been nearly in our forties to have saved up enough money to buy our first home. I share this because I’ve continued to hear rhetoric from long-time Culver City homeowners suggesting that newcomers simply need to work as hard as they did to purchase a home, an “if I did it, you should be able to do it” attitude.
Hard work isn’t what makes Culver City homeownership accessible. Generational wealth does. We should not accept that any longer. Building many, many more homes like mine is one way to diminish the role that generational wealth plays in who can buy in Culver City.
I specifically pointed out that we own a condo for a reason. It was literally one of the few two-bedroom homes on the market that cost less than $1 million within Culver City city limits. That is not an exaggeration. We live in a 6-plex, which is an atypical building type for Culver. It was by far cheaper than any single family two-bedroom units on the market.
If we’d like to stop perpetuating a system that relies on generational wealth (which only further entrenches racial inequities in housing) to deliver middle-income housing in Culver City, we need a lot more housing types in order to do it.
Kristen Torres Pawling
P.S. After buying our home, we gave all the gift money back.