top of page

Down Payment Assistance is Great, but Homebuyers Need More

In 1996, I created the Nehemiah Program, the nation’s first national, privately funded down payment assistance program. The Nehemiah Program assisted over 300,000 American families to become homeowners from 1996-2008.

The Nehemiah Program, though well-intended, was not without controversy and was eventually discontinued by federal legislation in 2008. However, from my perspective, much of what led to the model’s demise could have been averted had the early safeguards that I advocated for from the very beginning been adhered to. See Nehemiah’s Official Response to HUD’s Proposed Rule Change. Among them was a requirement that homebuyers seeking down payment assistance first complete homebuyer education.

Starting the Nehemiah Program taught me that there are thousands of prospective home buyers across America who could become homeowners with just a little help and information. Unlike when I started The Nehemiah Program there are now hundreds of down payment assistance programs available nationwide. That’s great, but it can also be confusing as well. Also, many people who seek down payment assistance are first-time or first-generation homebuyers and do not know the basic requirements for qualifying for a home loan. That’s why I created the Qualified Buyer Index.

QBI is an app that allows a prospective homebuyer to self-assess their homebuyer readiness. QBI generates a three-digit number that reflects credit readiness, ability to purchase based on housing affordability, and information provided fundamental to the loan approval process. Prospective homebuyers who meet certain criteria are immediately directed to lenders or real estate agents who are QBI subscribers. Prospects who don’t meet baseline criteria are given suggestions on how to best move forward.

My hope is that through QBI, we can help reduce one of the largest barriers to entry into homeownership: lack of information. We want to give people the information they need in order to make the best decision for their financial future and empower them with the knowledge they need to make an informed choice.

In addition, we want to make sure that lenders and agents are getting high-quality leads that have been pre-qualified. This saves everyone time and energy, which is an important win for all involved.

Ultimately, our mission at QBI is to make homeownership more accessible to everyone by providing free access to information on the home buying process, pre-qualifying potential buyers, and connecting them with lenders and agents who can help them achieve their goals.

We believe that everyone should have access to the tools and resources they need to make their dreams of homeownership a reality, and we are dedicated to making this happen.

Our goal is to contribute to bringing homeownership within reach for those who may not otherwise be able to own a home, but also want them to understand how important it is to be financially responsible when entering into such a large purchase.

We want to make sure that buyers are aware of what they’re getting themselves into and how best to protect their investment over the long term. We also want to make sure that lenders have access to high-quality leads, which helps speed up the entire process for everyone.


Don F. Harris


Don F. Harris is the Founder of The QBI Companies (Getqbi, LLC and QBI, LLC). Mr. Harris is a nationally-recognized social entrepreneur and innovator in the fields of housing and community development.

Read More

bottom of page