At the end of September, Cornerstone Partnership staff and representatives from CHIP grantees came together with fellow Social Innovation Fund (SIF) intermediaries and subgrantees for an educational and energetic celebration of the “SIF at 5!” It was an amazing three days of events, ranging from an interactive Sustainability Learning Lab, to a special Social Innovation Summit, to an opportunity to visit Hill leaders and White House staff to share our successes to date. While the speakers were inspirational and photo ops at the reception were great, hearing one of our CHIP grantees’ homeowners speak during the opening plenary was definitely the highlight of the experience for me.
Konyka Dunson, who became a first-time homeowner with support from City First Homes, spoke to hundreds of social innovators about what shared equity homeownership means to her. Konyka did what many of us who work in the industry struggle with regularly: she explained shared equity in a way that was clear and engaged the audience. She said that it’s “built on the concept of paying it forward” and acknowledged that she made a conscious choice to use City First Homes’ program, where she knew she was not only making a good financial decision for herself, but also helping to create a lasting stock of affordable homes. Konyka told us that thanks to the financial and educational assistance from City First, she lives in a great neighborhood where she even likes her neighbors!
Konyka even talked about stewardship, which can be a challenge to define to our stakeholders. She emphasized the partnership and support she felt from City First Homes’ staff before and after she bought her home, telling the audience that she’s a “conscious steward of this home” and that she hopes that “the same way the home has been great for me, it’s going to be great, and also affordable, for the next buyer.”
I’m still recovering from the excitement in September, and I’m thankful that Konyka was willing to share her story with the attendees, and now all of you. Check out the video below, and stay tuned for more from our outstanding CHIP grantees in December!