Tyler and Gloria Coulverson in front of their new home in Duquesne, PA. The Next Steps Fund helped them cover their down payment and closing costs. | Photo courtesy of Tyler Coulverson

Catapult Greater Pittsburgh is on a mission to help more Black families become homeowners.

The organization has a range of programs to this end—from financial counseling to a pre-purchase homeownership program called D.O.O.R (Development Ownership Opportunities for Residents). Their latest initiative, the Next Steps Fund, takes their mission one step further by helping first-time buyers with down payments and closing costs.

“The Next Steps Fund was birthed out of Catapult’s dedication to economic justice opportunities for individuals seeking generational stability,” Brettney Duck, Catapult’s director of homeownership explained. “Through this fund we aim to close the racial homeownership gap in Allegheny County.”

The idea for the fund came from watching D.O.O.R participants struggle to save enough money to cover closing costs or empty their retirement funds or emergency savings to close.

As Catapult Executive Director Tammy Thompson told the Pittsburgh City Paper, “We knew that we wanted to offer support.”

Launched in 2021, Catapult’s Next Steps Fund has awarded $129,158 to 32 individuals and families to date. To be eligible, buyers must have completed Catapult’s D.O.O.R. program or a home buying education workshop from another program and Catapult’s Homeownership Fast-Track Session.

The fund initially got off the ground with support from a generous group of Pittsburgh women.

As reported in the City Paper, Jennifer McDowell, Catherine Raphael, Ebe Emmons, Georgia Berner, Nancy Bernstein, and Diane Petronko felt compelled to take action in their communities after studying the racial disparities in Pittsburgh. Through their research, they got connected to Thompson and eventually decided to raise money for the fund. Catapult also received $200,000 from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund to kick off the fund.

Tyler and Gloria Coulverson are one of the families who have benefitted, receiving approximately $5,000 to help cover their down payment and closing costs on a three-bedroom, single-family home in Duquesne.

Coulverson explained that this money saved them from having to tap into his 401k.

“Receiving this support from the Next Steps Fund has meant so much to me! It has allowed me to allocate funds to furnish my home and take care of some initial expenses,” he said. “My 401k is unbothered and my future retirement plans are still intact.”

Catapult is currently accepting applications for the fund—and with the help of state, foundation, and individual donations and grants, they hope to continue to offer it for years to come.

The criteria for families or individuals interested in receiving assistance from the Next Steps Fund are as follows:

  • Must be purchasing a home within Allegheny County
  • Cannot earn more than 115% Area Media Income (AMI)
  • Must be a first-time homebuyer
  • Owner Occupant (Buyer must be a full-time resident of the property)
  • Must participate and earn a First Time Homebuyer Certificate in the Catapult Greater Pittsburgh D.O.O.R program.
  • Buyer must contribute no less than 1% of total purchase price to the transaction.

Those interested can reach out to Brettney Duck at brettney@catapultpittsburgh.org.

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