DC Program Helps Black Entrepreneurs Become Homeowners – NBC4 Washington
With the turn of a key, LaToya Liles-Walker walked into her hair salon for the first time, not as a tenant, but as the owner of the building.
“Look at the month, its Women’s History Month,” said Liles-Walker, CEO and Founder of Tsunami Hair Studio in the Northeast. “It’s history and it’s just an abundance of blessings.”
This blessing came in the form of down payment assistance through the District’s Commercial Property Acquisition Fund.
Liles-Walker’s salon has been renting out her building since 2013. Now it’s all hers.
For Liles-Walker, owning the building is above all building a legacy.
“A generational legacy. For my future children, for my family, for my friends, for my stylists, for my staff,” she said.
City First Bank of DC — the nation’s largest black-run bank — administers the $4 million fund. The goal is to ensure that entrepreneurs in low-income communities have access to the same capital as large corporations and white-owned businesses to purchase commercial property.
“We ensure that capital flows to communities that make a difference where people come from,” said Oswaldo Acosta, CEO of City-First Enterprises. “We need to change the paradigm of economic development.”
Wanda Henderson has been running Wanda’s on 7th for nearly two decades. Now she has enough money to buy a vacant storefront in the Southeast and turn it into a beauty and hairdressing school.
“It’s so expensive to go to a bank, make a 20% deposit and just get started, but you still have to keep the business going,” Henderson said. “Without the city, I couldn’t have done it.”
Liles-Walker has seen her business grow to this extent in less than a decade. Today is just the latest milestone.
It means “Hey, the tsunami is here,” Liles-Walker said. “We’re here and it’s time to hit the ground running and riding the wave.”
To apply and learn more about the program, visit the district website here.