At ELDI, we believe that homeownership is one of the most effective ways to begin to close the Black-white wealth gap. The Pittsburgh-based real estate company and lender Howard Hanna shares ELDI’s vision. They are focused on increasing homeownership for those who have historically been excluded, recently naming ELDI Real Estate Investment Committee member LaMarcus Thurman as their new vice president of community lending. [Editor’s note: The Real Estate Investment Committee is comprised of ELDI board members and local bankers who review the financial feasibility of ELDI projects after they have been approved by the Community Planning Committee.]

With more than a decade of experience in the banking and mortgage industry, Thurman will be responsible for building relationships, awareness, and education around community lending in underserved communities throughout the majority-minority census tracts Howard Hanna Mortgage serves. Read our Q&A with Thurman below to learn more about his new role in community lending and what Howard Hanna Mortgage Services (HHMS) is doing to help make homeownership more accessible across Pittsburgh.

Why did HHMS decide to create a new position focused on community lending? What are the organization’s goals with this type of lending moving forward?

Increasing homeownership in underserved communities is one of the biggest challenges confronting the mortgage industry today. Taking the lead from the Biden administration’s equity agenda, in October 2021, HHMS committed to tackling this challenge head-on. To meet an ever-present need to offer mortgage financing to low and moderate-income borrowers, HHMS began creating a Community Lending Department. Under my leadership, it is constructing products, programs, and policies geared towards serving the underprivileged. HHMS wants to be more intentional about lending to multicultural and underserved communities, and with this in mind, some of the goals of the department are to:

  • Bring the whole company together to create a more diverse, competitive workforce and a more diverse client base.
  • Become the hometown lender of choice for underserved populations in the markets HHMS serves.
  • Build stronger partnerships with community groups that can help us reach and educate the populations who are typically left out of homebuying opportunities.

What lending services does HHMS offer to underserved communities?

To bring mortgage products to underserved communities, HHMS is partnering with financial institutions and charitable organizations to provide attractive financing options. Plans are currently in place to extend credit and closing costs assistance to first-time homebuyers. During the last two years, HHMS assisted more than 1,500 buyers in achieving the dream of homeownership by providing loans that offer down payment assistance, grants, and subsidies. In some cases, grants of up to $25,000 may be available to qualified borrowers.

Last year, HHMS ranked second among the participating lenders in the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency program. This year, it’s collaborating with them to offer closing costs credits through their Minority Homeownership Initiative with the Heinz Foundation.


How does your work with ELDI relate to your new position?

As a member of the Real Estate Investment Committee for ELDI, I can see what properties the organization is looking to acquire or sell within the communities we serve. Starting with my new role, HHMS is creating various solutions to help individuals become homeowners. Some examples include educational resources, loans to help people obtain loans they didn’t think possible, and strategies to ensure they are successful after they close. Whether that process takes two months, six months, or one year, our team will help walk anyone through this process. We are here to serve the people.

What impact do you hope to make in the community?

Promoting homeownership in underserved areas increases the likelihood of improving the lives of those in these communities through successful long-term homeownership. HHMS believes these low and moderate-income programs are essential to building generational wealth. It also wants to change the stigma around affordable lending by developing more mortgage products for underserved communities and providing resources that create renewed access for borrowers.

➡ Want to know more about Howard Hanna Mortgage Services? Contact LaMarcus Thurman at