Tyshawn Cook has one word to describe the assistance he received from The San Diego Foundation and the San Diego Black Homebuyer Program: “unbelievable.”

“I will say that if I was going through this without the people who have been helping me, I believe it would have been a lot harder,” Tyshawn shared. “[This process] wasn’t super difficult.”

Tyshawn is the first new homeowner under the Black Homebuyer Program, launched in August 2021 in partnership with Union Bank, LISC San Diego and Urban League of San Diego County. He recently received the keys to his two-bedroom condo in Spring Valley. While Cook, 23, had always planned to build personal wealth through real estate, he didn’t envision doing so right now. 

“If you would have asked me a year ago ‘could I have been buying a home in a year?’ my answer would have been ‘no, I’m nowhere near close to ready,’ but here I am.”

Had it not been for a moment of serendipity in the form of well-timed TV watching, Tyshawn would not be a homeowner today.

“Literally, I was just sitting there one day and the news was on,” Tyshawn said. “I saw it and it happened to be talking about the program. From then on, I did my own research and asked questions.”

With assistance from Urban League of San Diego, Tyshawn received answers to every question he asked of his housing counselor. Despite his busy schedule (Cook works full-time as a calibration technician for an equipment rental company, is a U.S. Navy reservist and is studying electrical engineering at San Diego State with plans to graduate in December), he is excited to do some DIY renovations in his new home and build wealth through homeownership.

Homeowner Tyshawn Cook (middle) poses with his younger siblings Aaron Nelson
Jr. (left) and Anniyah Nelson.

About the program

The goal of the Black Homebuyer Program is to improve the racial wealth gap in San Diego by investing in generational wealth-building opportunities through Black homeownership. Nationwide, the homeownership gap between Black families and white families has continued to grow in recent years. Currently in the U.S., only 42% of Black families own their homes, while 72% of white families own their homes. In San Diego, fewer than 30% of Black families own homes compared to 61% of white families.

The Black Homebuyer Program was founded and seed-funded by an initial pledge of $1 million by The San Diego Foundation’s Black Community Investment Fund, along with administrative funding from the County of San Diego, through the office of Board of Supervisors Chair, Nathan Fletcher. The program’s goal is to further wealth-building and to serve as a stabilizing force for family, community, health and self.

In September, the program was buoyed by a $160,000 grant from the BQuest Foundation, which will help provide grants for another four homebuyers. In total, the Black Homebuyer Program will be able to assist 35 families this fiscal year. Several families are currently in the pipeline, which is managed by Urban League of San Diego County.

About the Black Community Investment Fund

The Black Community Investment Fund prioritizes and invests in community-led, innovative efforts that increase racial equity and generational wealth for Black San Diegans. The fund was co-founded by the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce and The San Diego Foundation, and focuses on four key pillars: education, employment, entrepreneurship and housing. Learn more about the Black Community Investment Fund.