#TrustPlusatWork: Landed Co-Founder Alex Lofton on Addressing Wealth Inequality through Homeownership

Landed helps essential professionals buy homes and through a partnership with TrustPlus will now help them strengthen their financial health on the path to homeownership.

Landed Co-Founder Alex Lofton is passionate about helping essential professionals in education, healthcare, and government unlock the financial benefits of homeownership. We spoke to Alex about Landed’s shared equity down payment program, reducing wealth inequality, and partnering with TrustPlus to help aspiring homeowners strengthen credit, manage debt, and build savings on their journey toward purchasing a home.

What is Landed?

We are on a mission to help essential professionals build financial security and buy homes in the communities they serve. Many people don’t have money to provide up front for a down payment to get into a home, which is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t buy a home.

We’re asking how do we democratize tools of high finance, things like shared equity co-investment to help people stair step into homeownership? And that’s the core of what we do. We have a shared equity down payment product that helps people stair step into ownership. When you’re ready to end your partnership with Landed, you do so as the full owner of your home. We’re an alternative to what so many people don’t have access to, which is that bank of mom and dad.

How does Landed work?

Traditionally, Landed partners with employers, say a school district or a hospital system or a city government. The employer will share information with staff that Landed exists and that our goal is to help them become financially secure. People will go to our website, they’ll sign up and they’ll start to get a sense of what their options are.

And as a part of that process, usually in conversation with one of our teammates at Landed, they’ll decide whether they’re ready to use the down payment product right now. If it’s a no and they say, hey, I want some support to get there, then there’s a referral opportunity. We will refer them to TrustPlus. At that moment, we’ll say, here’s a group that we trust that believes in very much the same things as we do and has a very similar approach to how they engage with you around your finances.

Why did you start Landed?

My mom was a fourth grade school teacher. My dad was a social worker. I grew up with a lot of love and support in my household. But money was always tight and it wasn’t until granny passed away and passed along her home that things changed for our family, that was the moment. And it was the first example of intergenerational wealth being transferred in my family.

It ended up sending me to the colleges I went to. It ended up allowing my parents to be kind of a financial bedrock for extended family when things got tight. It helped them retire. So, homeownership is a financial tool, which also provides a roof over your head. It’s what so many folks depend on to create the lives they want for themselves and their families.

Systematically, Brown and Black people in the U.S. have been cut out of homeownership and cut out of the ability to build wealth for themselves and their families. Part of the reason that we’re doing the work that we do is to recognize that there’s an imbalance there. And there’s an opportunity there to serve more folks.

Our down payment program is a part of helping to address wealth inequality. In the U.S., a key part of building wealth is having the choice to access homeownership. And our orientation is that there should be more choices than there are today. Going from being a renter to an owner is a very, very, very big leap for most people. So if you can build stair steps along that pathway, there’s more opportunity to help address wealth inequalities for a specific segment of the population that is essential to our communities and our societies thriving.

Why partner with TrustPlus?

We believe in the idea and concept of, it takes a village. TrustPlus is part of that village, working with folks to get them closer to being able to use our down payment product — whether it be through credit counseling, debt consolidation, budgeting, all sorts of things that are essential to full financial wellness — and specifically with that human touch I find so consistent with how we try to approach the work that we do.

We see partnering with TrustPlus as a way to expand the number of people who have access to our down payment product, and to homeownership in the future, by helping the folks who are maybe a little bit earlier in their journey.

The fact that this village that we’re creating includes TrustPlus means that we’re going to be able to serve so many more essential professionals in a very meaningful way. We’re not going to have to only say, hey, we got this specific down payment product and you can either use it or you can’t. We can actually say, hey, you want to use it at some point in the future, now we have a pathway for you. And that pathway is a partnership with TrustPlus.

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For nearly 25 years, our nonprofit social enterprise has been empowering workers to take control of their finances through financial coaching. Now we’re bringing our expertise to employers who want to support their workers’ financial health. www.mytrustplus.org

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TrustPlus is a financial wellness benefit that eases everyday money worries with personal coaching and action-oriented tools and products.

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